With the 17th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Giants added a powerful force on their defensive line in Clemson DT Dexter Lawrence.
Mississippi State DE Montez Sweat was still on the board at 217, and made sense for James Bettcher’s 3-4 scheme as a speedy edge rusher. But Dave Gettleman wanted to complete the tackle portion in the trenches of the defensive front.
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The Giants had to go defense with their second first-round pick after taking a quarterback at No. 6. And while Lawrence isn’t the edge rusher everyone thought they were after, the 6-foot-4, 342-pounder is a massive presence for the middle of their defensive line.
Basically, he’s the replacement for Damon “Snacks” Harrison. He’s a powerful, strong man who they expect can occupy space and blockers – enough to hopefully free up the pass rushers around him. His presence alone will also make it much more difficult for teams to run against the Giants defense.
It’s not a sexy pick to be sure, but he’s the kind of trench player that Gettleman loves. He’s a Hog Mollie for the defense, and Gettleman believes those are the building blocks for winning teams.
Lawrence was a beast along Clemson’s fearsome front four last season, where he totaled 36 tackles, seven for loss, and 1.5 sacks over 13 games. At his massive size, he ran a 5.05 40-yard dash in the NFL Combine, and threw up the 225-pound bench press for 36 reps like it was nothing.
Lawrence’s junior season wasn’t the way he wanted to end it, though, after being suspended for two playoff games following a positive test for ostarine — a performance-enhancement drug. He said he did not know how the substance got into his system.
Despite Lawrence’s best season coming as a freshman (62 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks), many believe he is the physical presence in the interior NFL teams drool over. Now he’s a Giant.