by Spiro Kasabian @nyspawtsguy_spi
The New York Giant defensive line may be lacking experience, but they are certainly not lacking in talent. The Giant starting defensive line will boast a 1st round pick in Dexter Lawrence, a 2nd round pick in Dalvin Tomlinson, and a 3rd round pick in B.J. Hill. Each player is under the age of twenty-five.
So, while there is a lot of potentials, there are also a lot of question marks about how good this unit can become.
The New Guy:
Dexter Lawrence has, somehow, slipped under-the-radar for Giant fans. Maybe it was because he was the middle child of the three first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, the Giants have found themselves a physical specimen in DLaw. Not many people at his size (6’4” 340 Lbs) can move the way Dexter can. That talent has been on display all throughout Training Camp so far, as Jon Halapio and Co. can attest to.
People that keep pinning Lawrence as a replacement for Snacks (which is NOT a bad thing at a fraction of the cost) are going to be pleasantly surprised at what he can bring to this Giant defense. He’s not simply a two-down, run-stuffing nose tackle. Bettcher has moved Lawrence all over the defensive line, and much like B.J. Hill last year, expect to see Lawrence push the pocket and get after the passer.
To the Hill and Back:
Speaking of B.J. Hill, the second-year defensive lineman is going to be counted on heavily in 2019. Coming out of the gate with 5.5 sacks as a rookie last year, in only 12 starts, the Giants are hoping for some dominant play out of Hill. B.J. already has taken on a leadership role for this defense, and he will only continue to grow in that role with the more confidence he gains. He played 58% of the defenses snaps last year, so expect his impact to go up with more playing time.
Make it or Break It:
Dalvin Tomlinson finds himself at a crossroad in his Giant career. He has started 32 games in the past two seasons but has only registered 1 sack and 58 tackles. While PFF likes his run-stuffing ability, the Giants need to see more out of Tomlinson in year three to justify his high draft slot. Dalvin is expected to anchor this defense in the middle, and he had a rough go at that spot last year when Snacks was traded. It is up to him to step up his play and prove he belongs in Blue long term.
Behind the green Big Blue starting defensive line are several intriguing talents. Last year’s fifth-round pick, RJ McIntosh, had what amounted to a “red-shirt” rookie year last year due to some health issues. He was able to get some reps in later in the season, appearing in 6 games. The Giants are looking for RJ to provide depth and some pass-rushing ability as a 3-technique.
Olsen Pierre is a local boy (Rahway, NJ) who played his best ball under Bettcher’s defense in Arizona two years ago when he registered 5.5 sacks in 7 starts in 2017. Still only 27-years-old, the Giants are hoping Pierre can recapture that magic and provide some solid depth on the interior, especially from a pass-rushing perspective.
The Giants drafted Chris Slayton in the seventh round of the 2019 draft, and while he was never able to fully put it together at Syracuse, the Giants are hoping to unlock his potential. For now, he and veteran nose tackle John Jenkins will be nothing more than depth in case of injury.
This Defensive Line can be an above-average unit. With the lack of pass-rushers on the Edge, this line will be expected to, not only stop the run but provide some semblance of a pass-rush from the interior. There is the talent to do it, but in the NFL, the proof is in the pudding.