Giants Defender Earns Massive Praise From NFL Execs

Dexter Lawrence, Giants
NFL Analysis Network

In 2022, the New York Giants surprised just about everybody by winning six of their first seven games, finishing 9-7-1 and upsetting the 13-4 Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.

But they fell to 6-11 last season, leading many to feel their success the previous year was nothing more than a happy fluke.

Daniel Jones is still starting at quarterback, despite his continued struggles and a torn ACL he suffered last season. Even though New York drafted wide receiver Malik Nabers—who is thought to have star potential— with the No. 6 pick in April’s draft, it will likely have to win mostly with defense to have any shot at returning to the postseason this fall and winter.

A major part of New York’s defense is star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who was ranked the NFL’s third-best player at his position in a poll of coaches, scouts and executives from around the league that was conducted by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, via Bleacher Report.

Dexter Lawrence is an unheralded superstar

Lawrence was the Giants’ only defender who made the Pro Bowl in 2023. He tallied 4.5 sacks, 21 quarterback hits, seven tackles for loss and 53 total tackles (32 solo) in 16 games this past season, and his Pro Bowl selection was his second in a row.

In 2022, when the Giants made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, he had 7.5 sacks, 28 QB hits, seven tackles for loss and 68 total tackles (35 solo), plus two forced fumbles in the regular season. In New York’s two postseason games that year, he totaled 12 total tackles (six solo) and four QB hits.

The Giants had the success they managed in 2022 mostly because of defense. Their overall defensive rankings weren’t very impressive, but they found a way to win by mucking up games and holding their opponents to 20 or fewer points nine times.

At age 26, perhaps Lawrence still has a bit of room for improvement moving forward.

While the Giants lost star running back Saquon Barkley in free agency, they did add Brian Burns, a capable edge rusher, in an offseason trade with the Carolina Panthers. Burns, 26, had 8.0 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss in 2023, and he made the Pro Bowl the previous two years with a combined 21.5 sacks, 40 QB hits and 30 tackles for loss.

They also have a budding star in pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, who had a strong sophomore campaign in 2023 with 11.5 sacks, 16 QB hits and 12 tackles for loss.

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