At Clemson, the motto is best is the standard.
For three years, former defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence lived up to that premise. Now in New York, the All-American is living up to a new standard … the Giants’ standard. In particular the Giants’ standard on the defensive line.
The New York Football Giants have always had a proud tradition of great defensive linemen, something Lawrence knows all too well. Growing up a Giants fan, the former Tiger pulled for guys like Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.
“Coming here gave me a little more motivation, because the standard is here,” Lawrence said to the media prior to rookie minicamp this past weekend. “So, you’ve got to try to beat that standard or be better than that standard.
“That is one of my goals as I’m here … break the standard.”
Playing up to his standard allowed Lawrence to help Clemson win two national championships in his three years in Tigertown. He was a part of one of the most dominant defensive lines in the history of college football.
During his three years, Clemson led the nation in overall total sacks and tackles for loss. The Tigers led the country in scoring defense this past season and ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense all three years he lined up at nose tackle.
The Giants selected Lawrence with the No. 17 overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft on April 25.
“The first thing that jumps out about Dexter is he’s a pretty big man,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a guy that can play the run and rush the passer. When you pick a guy from Clemson, and he’s played on the biggest stage there is in college football… this isn’t going to be too big for him. We’re looking forward to getting him going.”
Big is an understatement for Lawrence. He is massive, standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing a lean 345 pounds. And though he was picked No. 17 overall, Lawrence is out to prove he was the best defensive tackle in the draft, and he got overshadowed by others due overall numbers instead of what was on film.
“I’m definitely underrated,” he said. “It’s kind of on me to prove myself, right? I’ve always been able to collapse the pocket, now I’m focused on escaping blocks or finishing the plays and things like that.”