Giants were desperate to draft this pass rusher, who needs work
After the first two rounds of the NFL draft, general manager Dave Gettleman knew the Giants had only four remaining picks. No, he said, there will not be any trades to move up higher. We need to make four picks and add four players to the roster.
About an hour later, Gettleman revealed he attempted to trade up in the third round to get Lorenzo Carter, an outside linebacker from Georgia.
“That’s right, you caught me,’’ Gettleman confessed. “He’s an outside edge pass rusher. We need pass rushers. Every team needs pass rushers. C’mon.’’
That is the way it is in the NFL — you make exceptions for pass rushers. Every team needs them, and most every team craves more of them. The Giants went into this draft knowing they badly needed to add pass-rush help, and if they passed on Bradley Chubb with the No. 2 overall pick, they would have to get creative finding that help. They preferred running back Saquon Barkley and took him in the first round.
As the second round progressed, Gettleman was getting antsy and made a few calls, eyeing Carter, thinking he would have to swap a lower-round pick to get into the back end of the second round to get him. Nothing materialized. The Giants were thrilled Carter lasted into the third round and with the 66th-overall pick, they gladly scooped him up.
The Giants have been trying, and failing, at this for years. Since 2010, when they made Jason Pierre-Paul their first-round pick, the Giants have not developed a quality pass rusher. They tried with Damontre Moore (third round, 2013) and Owa Odighizuwa (third round, 2015) and Avery Moss (fifth round, 2017). The jury remains out on Moss; the other two were busts.
Perhaps Carter breaks the downward trend. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he is perfectly suited for an outside-linebacker role in the 3-4 defensive front new coordinator James Bettcher has installed. That Carter ran 4.53 in the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine is eye-opening and one of the reasons he was rated in many circles as the second-best outside linebacker in this draft, behind Harold Landry of Boston College. The Titans traded up in the second round to get Landry with pick No. 41.
Landry set a school record with 26 career sacks. Carter, in 54 games and 26 starts at Georgia, had 14 sacks. It is no wonder he is considered a player in need of development, despite his obvious physical gifts.
“He was involved on a team that got a lot of pressure,’’ head coach Pat Shurmur said. “Although he didn’t get sacks, there was a time where he did get pressure. There are some really dynamic rushes that he put on the quarterback where he was able to step up, move around and do something. He has got it in him.”
Now it is up to the Giants to get it out of him.
“Who doesn’t want to draft a kid that has 58,000 sacks?’’ Gettleman said. “What you have to appreciate is his unseen production. If he is flying off the edge, he is creating pressure. Sometimes you are looking at guys that create plays for others. You have to look at that. That is part of it. At the end of the day, he does not have ginormous sack numbers. A lot of these kids don’t have pass-rush plans or pass-rush variety. Our job is to teach them that.’’
While Carter learns, the Giants believe he can be an immediate impact player on special teams. In time, that will not be enough. The way the roster is constituted, Olivier Vernon is the only legitimate, proven NFL pass rusher, and yet in 28 games for the Giants, he has just 15 sacks.
Carter often lined up in a two-point stance at Georgia, making him a perfect projection for this Giants defense, and scouts believe he has room on his frame to add weight. His long strides help him get to where the action is, and both Gettleman and Shurmur are adamant Carter can set the edge in the run game. The Giants also like that he came up big in many of the biggest games for the Bulldogs. In Georgia’s Rose Bowl win over Oklahoma, Carter blocked a field-goal attempt in double overtime, setting up the Bulldogs’ win as they clinched a spot in the national title game.
Carter realizes his production does not match his potential.
“Just going to Georgia, my numbers don’t say the elite pass rusher I feel like I am,’’ he said. “But that’s because I was in a defense where I did a lot of things. So coming into a 3-4 defense is right at home. It’s what I do.”
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