The New York Giants' defensive tackle rotation was one of the strengths of the team in 2013. In fact, it was one of the biggest (no pun intended, well, maybe a bit) reasons why the Giants' defense vaulted from one of the worst units in the NFL in 2012 to one of the best in 2013. However that stout rotation depended heavily on veterans Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, and Shaun Rogers as well as Linval Joseph.
With Joseph and Rogers no longer on the team, their snaps would fall to sophomore John Hankins and aging veterans Jenkins and Patterson. Though Jenkins and Patterson played well last season they aren't getting any younger. As well, Hankins needs to be a part of a rotation to keep him from wearing down, as happened his final year at Ohio State.
In response to the thinning rotation Giants' GM Jerry Reese drafted Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley.
Bromley flew under the radar throughout the 2013 season and the 2014 draft process. In fact, when he was drafted most Giants fans had no clue who he was.
That begs the question: Why did they draft him where they did? Since we only have film to go on, let's use that.
The first thing I look for with defensive tackles is where they are lined up. The role a defensive tackle plays in the defense changes based on where he lines up with regards to the offensive line.
The nose tackle (0-Tech or 1-Tech) is primarily a physical presence inside. He lines up over or just to the side of the center and his job is to occupy blockers, stop inside runs, and push the pocket.
The 3-Tech is generally the interior pass rusher. He lines up over the guard's outside shoulder and is in charge of the "B" gap in front of him. His job is to shoot the gap and apply pressure in the backfield.
The 5-Tech lines up over the tackles, and he is generally the defensive end in a 3-man front. The 5-Tech's job depends on the type of defense the team is playing. They could be a pass rusher (such as J.J. Watt) or they could be in charge of holding the edge and occupying blockers so the linebackers can make plays.
Here's a nice cheat sheet:
Rather than go through 10+ minutes of film and detail every play, I'm going to go through and highlight several plays that highlight who (I think) Jay Bromley is as a player, and what he might become.
The rush defense was the strength of the 2013 defensive line, and the foundation of what the Giants want to do on defense. As Tom Coughlin constantly summarizes, they want to stop the run, then rush the passer. Any defensive tackle the Giants draft highly is going to have to be stout against the run.
Play 1) 5:22 - 5:31
Here we see Bromley lined up as the 3-Technique. He shows a nice burst off the snap, and does a great job of firing low and getting leverage early. He takes on a double team by the guard and tackle, splits it, and stops the running back for no gain.
Play 2) 6:20 - 6:28
Once again we see Bromley lined up as the 3-Technique between the guard and tackle. This is a really nice play by Bromley. He shows a great first step (he's the first Syracuse defensive lineman moving at the snap). This play is a run to the left side with the guard pulling. Bromley gets double teamed by the center and tackle as the guard pulls across. However, he splits the double team and runs the back down behind the line of scrimmage.
Play 3) 0:41-0:48
Again Bromley is lined up as the 3-Technique. This play shows one of Bromley's faults (though it's a common one among rookies). Here he gets a nice jump on the snap, but he lets his pad level rise and allows the right guard into his pads. He gets stood up and can't get off the block to help with the play. It doesn't hurt Syracuse, but it isn't a good play for Bromley.
With Johnathan Hankins already on the roster, Bromley will likely be the interior pass rusher the majority of the time. While stopping the run is the defensive tackles' first priority, getting a push inside and putting pressure on the passer is a close second. As the Giants saw last year on offense, the effect pressure in a quarterback's face can't be discounted.
Play 1) 0:00 - 0:10
This play starts out with Bromley playing the 5-technique or defensive end position. At the snap he goes for an outside move to get around the right tackle. Bromley isn't really blocked this play. However, Bromley doesn't bite on the sweep and stays on the quarterback. Instead he gets in the way of the quick pass to the fullback, and forces the bad pass. Good awareness and display of athleticism here.
Play 2) 2:25 - 2:36
Here we see Bromley lined up as the nose tackle (the angle makes it a bit tough to see if he is the 0-Tech or shaded to the right guard as a 1-tech). He shows his good first step once again and gets a one-on-one match-up on the center. Bromley keeps good pad level and bull-rushes the center back into the quarterback's lap, knocking him down. There isn't enough pressure off the edges to force the QB up into the collapsing pocket for Bromley to affect the throw, but this is a good play on his part. That center had no chance.
Play 3) 8:51 - 9:01
This is the play of the game for Bromley, so I wanted to put it in a GIF.
Bromley starts out the play lined up at the 3-technique. He stays low and absolutely fires off the snap, blowing through the "A" gap and shooting right past the center who dives to try to block him. As he's running down the QB Bromley gets his hands up to keep the ball in the QBs hands. I would have liked to have seen him wrap up and form tackle the QB. But, he does hit hard enough to separate the ball from the QB, a turnover that effectively seals the game for Syracuse.
The Final Word
When the Giants drafted Bromley 74th overall, most Giants fans said "Who!?". That's a common question in the sixth and seventh rounds, but fans don't like to ask it in the third.
Bromley was one of the more productive defensive tackles in college football in 2013, but he rarely got any recognition for it. By all accounts he is a young man of very high character, and as both his tape and the NFL scouting combine showed, he has intriguing physical tools.
Bromley's play is certainly inconsistent. He shows flashes of dominance, but there are also times he gets stood up and taken out of plays too easily. But, his play and production also improved every year at Syracuse. Perhaps we all should have noticed when some tried to call attention to him during the season. If his work ethic is as strong as those who have been around him say, he could not only live up to his draft position, but out-play it.