Lorenzo Carter
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The New York Giants terminated Connor Barwin‘s contract in large part due to the belief they expect big things from Lorenzo Carter in 2019.

Jason Leach

There weren’t many positives to take away from the New York Giants 2018 season. They finished 5-11 and for the second year in a row, ended the campaign in the cellar of the NFC East.

But if there was one positive takeaway from last season, it was how impressive the Giants rookies performed.

Saquon Barkley broke numerous franchise rookie records, became the third rookie running back to have 2,000 all-purpose yards, earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and took home the AP and Pepsi Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Second round pick guard Will Hernandez showed that he’s as strong as an ox and was the Giants best offensive lineman.

Third-round pick, defensive lineman (69th overall) B.J. Hill, set a Giants rookie record for sacks with five and a half. Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor piled up 9.5 sacks his 1981 rookie year, but did not become an official statistic until 1982. Hill was also named to Gil Brandt’s All-Rookie Team.

While Barkley, Hernandez, and Hill grabbed most of the headlines, another rookie also had an impressive first season in the NFL and that’s third-round pick (66th overall) linebacker, Lorenzo Carter.

Carter appeared in 15 games, started in two of them and finished the season with 43 tackles, four sacks and four passes defended. You could see Carter progressing as the season went along. In the first eight games of the season, he had 19 tackles, and in the last eight games, he had 24.

He also showed that he’s a versatile linebacker that can play either on the left or right side of the defense.

His best game of the season came in Week 10 when the Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, 27-23. Carter had seven tackles and three of them were for losses.

It was Carter’s production and the progression he’ll make from year one to year two that factored in the Giants cutting veteran Connor Barwin last week.

The 32-year-old Barwin signed with the Giants on July 25 at the start of training camp, embarking on his 10th NFL season with his fourth different team. He made three starts, broke up four passes, and recorded one sack.

With Barwin declining and Carter ascending, parting ways with Barwin was a no brainer.

With Barwin gone, expect the 23-year-old Carter to compete with Kareem Martin for the starting outside linebacker position opposite Olivier Vernon. Carter should have the inside track to start over Martin since he’s a better pass rusher as he had four sacks compared to Martin’s sack and a half.

With a year of NFL experience and an increase in playing time, the Giants are banking on Carter to become a more efficient pass rusher, and improve on the team’s 30 sacks from a season ago which was tied for 30th in the league.

Gettleman feels confident that the 2019 season will be better than 2018, and the progression of the rookie class is a huge reason why.

In his end of season press conference, Gettleman spoke about his rookie class.

“We feel like we’ve turned that corner, especially with this rookie class. Saquon is unique. I stood up here and you watched me drool all over myself in the pre-draft. It was ugly, wasn’t it? Things happen. I should’ve worn a bib from Joe’s Stone Crab. My point is, he’s unique and he’s special. So is Will Hernandez, and B.J. and Lorenzo, and RJ is still growing up physically”.

It’s time for Lorenzo Carter and the rest of the rookie class to step up and have an even bigger role in 2019 and get Big Blue back to being one of the elite franchises in the NFL.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.