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PFF: Dexter Lawrence highest-graded NFL rookie

Dexter Lawrence has been quietly putting together an excellent rookie campaign. Well, quiet to some.

The 6-foot-4, 342-pound defensive tackle was recently ranked by Pro Football Focus as the highest-graded rookie through the first six weeks of the season. The No. 17 overall pick has racked up 17 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and two tackles for loss. In addition to his stats on paper, Lawrence has proven to be a handful for opposing offensive linemen. He has been getting pressure on the quarterback on a consistent basis, as well as playing a big role in the run game for Big Blue's defense.

"After a crisp performance in Week 6 against the New England Patriots that resulted in a career-high 84.2 overall grade, interior defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence makes his debut as PFF's highest-grade rookie," PFF's Anthony Treash wrote. "Lawrence was a force against the run as well as in the passing game, ranking 11th in run-defense grade (84.7) and 20th in pressure rate (10.5%). Lawrence followed up playing his 52-snap Week 5 with 61 snaps in Week 6 (in each of the first four weeks, Lawrence had a snap count between 28-34). Prior to the draft, PFF was vocal that if Lawrence was able to stay on the field for all three downs, he may be worth that mid-first-round pick he was actually taken at. So far, so good."

Going against the undefeated Patriots in Week 6, the 21-year-old Lawrence recorded two pressures on 37 pass-rush snaps and secured a stop against the run, all while leading the team's defensive linemen with 62 total snaps.

Lawrence now ranks second among qualifying rookie interior defenders in pass-rush win rate (11.3%). Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that through the first six weeks of the season, his 87.2 overall grade from PFF ranks 8th among all interior defensive linemen.

Lawrence has graded above 70.0 in five of his first six games, which puts him in some elite company. The only other rookie defensive players in the PFF era to achieve this were Lawrence's teammate, Dalvin Tomlinson (2017), Antoine Cason (2008), Aaron Donald (2014), Da'Shawn Hand (2018) and Derwin James (2018).

The only other defensive players to crack Pro Football Focus' top 10 rookie rankings were San Francisco's Nick Bosa (84.1), Carolina's Brian Burns (71.3) and Indianapolis' Khari Willis (70.8).

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