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Mailbag: Big Dexter Lawrence on offense?


Uncle Samuel Pap, Fleet Post Office, US Navy and US Marine Corps: Will Cam Brown have an important role this year?

John Schmeelk: The Giants drafted Cam Brown in the sixth round out of Penn State, where he was primarily a strong side 4-3 linebacker. It is a position that does not necessarily match the scheme most think coordinator Patrick Graham will utilize in his base defense. That doesn't there won't be a role for Brown.  

Perhaps he can set the edge and be a pass rusher on early downs as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Maybe his length will allow him to be a three down inside linebacker off the ball. Because of his 6-5 size and 34-inch arms, he could develop into a situational pass rusher. I am anxious to see how Graham uses his Brown's skillset.  

Brown will certainly have the chance to play a prominent role on special teams. With his size, length and athleticism, he should make an impact right away.

Gotdon in New Hampshire: I'd like to see the Giants use more of a two back set, with one back in motion at times. Do you think they would use this set like the old days?

Joseph in South Carolina: The Giants have not used a fullback since 2012. Is it something they would consider adding to their offense?

John Schmeelk: I would expect the Giants two most frequently used formations this year to be 11 (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) and 12 (one running back, two tight ends, 2 wide receivers). The Giants only used two backs in the backfield 87 times last year, according to Pro Football Focus. The Cowboys, where Jason Garrett coached last year, used two running backs 134 times. Looking at the numbers, it's possible those numbers do go up.

It all depends on what the Giants will be looking for the second back to do? Do they want a battering ram fullback, or do they prefer a player that is more adept at catching the football? Where do they see Elijah Penny fit in with his skillset? True fullbacks that can be both a road grating blocker and effective wide receiver are few and far between.

Can they use a tight end in the backfield, like Kaden Smith, who can do a little bit of both? Or perhaps the Giants will use Dion Lewis and Saquon Barkley together in some kind of dual-running back formation? Right now, we just don't know, but I would be surprised if we see two back sets as much as we see dual-tight end or three wideout sets.

View photos of the Giants' active roster as it currently stands.

Michael in Pennsylvania: My question is motivated by tape I saw previous to the 2019 NFL draft of Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney's innovative use of Dexter Lawrence as a short yardage/red zone fullback. Shades of "Refrigerator " Perry scoring TDS for the '85 Bears!

With an innovative coach like Joe Judge being determined to use the Belichikian model of discovering the multiple talents of a player, and utilizing them thoroughly, what chance do we have of seeing DRex punching in some Giant TDs in the 2020 season?

John Schmeelk: I'm not going to lie to you, Michael, you have me intrigued and a little excited. Is it possible? Sure. Bill Belichick used linebacker Mike Vrabel as an offensive player near the goal line. He never, however, used Vince Wilfork, who would be the best comparison to Dexter Lawrence. I wouldn't put anything past Joe Judge's creative mind, but I wouldn't hold my breath, either. With that said, if I was a linebacker and I saw that monster coming at me in the hole, I would think twice before trying to fill it.

Kevin in New York: Do you think the new coaching staff will take Saquon Barkley off the field on third downs if he doesn't fix his pass protection issues from last season?

John Schmeelk: According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley was responsible for three sacks, one quarterback hit, and three quarterback hurries last year. On some plays, he wasn't in the right place, and on others, he was simply beaten by the blitzing player. Barkley has the strength to pass protect, and he is a smart and diligent player with a good work ethic. There's no reason he shouldn't be able to improve as a pass protector.

If he struggles in that area, I don't know how Joe Judge and his coaching staff will react. The Giants do have another player on the roster with good receiving skills in Dion Lewis, who could pick up the slack in that area. It would hurt to take Barkley off the field on third down given his elite receiving and route running skills, but protecting the quarterback has to be a priority for any offense. It is something worth watching early in the season.


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