Dexter Lawrence named Giants' potential 2021 breakout player
The Giants made several big moves on the defensive side of the ball this offseason.
Leonard Williams was signed to a multi-year deal just before the start of free agency, and about a week later, Adoree' Jackson was added to the secondary. In the draft, four of the team's six picks were spent on defensive players, including the selections of Azeez Ojulari (second-round), Aaron Robinson (third-round) and Elerson Smith (fourth-round).
One player that stands to benefit from all of these moves is defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence, who is coming off a strong 2020 campaign himself.
CBS Sports picked a potential breakout player for each NFC team heading into the 2021 season, and the third-year defensive lineman was the choice for Big Blue.
As CBS Sports' Patrik Walker writes, "Leonard Williams is secured and rookie linebacker Azeez Olujari is impressing in OTAs, but let's not go overlooking Lawrence. This time two years ago, he was the first-round pick in New York, and he's been starting since."
Lawrence is yet to miss a game in his NFL career. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 342-pound lineman registered 53 tackles (30 solo), four sacks, six tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits and two passes defended, all of which topped his rookie marks. In fact, his sack total nearly doubled that from his first season, which shows that "the needle on his potential is aimed due north," as Walker notes.
Lawrence's 79.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020 finished 17th among all interior defensive lineman. The analytics site recently ranked him No. 16 on its list of the league's top defensive tackles.
"With Williams coming off of a breakout season, the presence of Olujari, Blake Martinez (and others) and a seemingly upgraded secondary, Lawrence should see room to impose his will upon opposing offenses more in Year 3," Walker adds.
Catch up on all the action with must-see photos from minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Daniel Jones, Kenny Golladay forming strong bond
The Giants have had numerous prolific quarterback/wide receiver tandems in their 96-year history. Y.A. Tittle and Del Shofner. Fran Tarkenton and Homer Jones. Kerry Collins and Amani Toomer. Eli Manning and – at different times - Plaxico Burress, Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham, Jr.
Could Daniel Jones and Kenny Golladay someday join or at least approach those productive and exciting duos?
Granted, such talk is wildly premature, considering Jones and Golladay have yet to play a game – or even wear pads – together. But their new partnership has brought an exhilaration not just to the offense, but to the two players who are so energized to be teammates.
"It's been great working with Kenny so far," Jones said last week after the first of three minicamp practices. "You can tell he's a true pro. He understands offensive football. He's still obviously learning our system, but you can tell he's got a good understanding of football and where to be, kind of timing and understanding concepts.
"He's been fun to work with. Obviously, his talent and skill level, you can tell as soon as you can get on the field with him he's a good player, smart player and I'm excited to keep working with him."
Jones and Golladay didn't wait for the team's offseason program to begin working together.
"Me and Danny hooked up a few times outside of the facility," Golladay said. "I didn't really come into it with any expectations to be honest but as of right now, that's my boy. I can't wait to just really work with him deeper in training camp and especially when the season starts."
Jones is entering his third season as the Giants' starting quarterback eager to continue his ascent and lead the Giants to their first postseason berth in five seasons. Golladay joined them in March as their most prominent free agent acquisition, a gifted wide receiver looking to return to the level that enabled him caught an NFL-high 11 touchdown passes in 2019 after injuries limited him to five games last year.
By those benchmarks, this would seem to be, as a reporter put it to him, a "make-or-break year" for Jones … and a significant season for Golladay.
"I'm not sure I necessarily think of it that way," Jones said of the external expectations placed on him. "I think right now my focus is on what I can do to improve and I think making sure that I'm improving every day and getting myself in a position to go into training camp prepared and be prepared to start the season. So I think that's my focus now that there's - we've all got to perform in the NFL and you're expected to perform at a certain level. So certainly understand that, but right now, the only way to get there is to focus on what we're doing here every day at practice."
Golladay conceded he views his move to the Giants as an opportunity to prove to a new team and fan base how well he can play.
"One hundred percent," he said. "This is just a new chapter in my life right now. I definitely feel like I have to go out there and prove to other people including myself, it's different for me. I got drafted to Detroit. Played all four years there. This is a whole different environment right now. So, I'm just ready to accept the challenge and just ready to go to work."
Opposing playmakers on Giants' 2021 schedule
Check out the gallery below to view photos of the top playmakers from each of the Giants' 2021 opponents.
View photos of the top playmakers from each of the Giants' 2021 opponents.