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Losing Johnathan Hankins is not why the Giants’ defense has regressed

Rookie DT Dalvin Tomlinson is doing just fine

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Our friends at SB Nation have tossed out “your under the radar defensive lineman” for a themed post this week. My answer is an easy one — for the New York Giants that has to be rookie defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.

Now that we have brought up Tomlinson’s name, that presents an opportunity to address something I keep seeing in comments or reading. That is the erroneous idea some people have that the Giants’ defense has fallen off the map mostly because the Giants lost defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to the Indianapolis Colts in free agency.

If you’re pinning the blame for the defensive collapse on replacing Hankins with Tomlinson, a second-round pick out of Alabama, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Based on the individual numbers, Hankins is having a good season. He has 24 tackles (13 solo), a sack and three passes defensed in 414 snaps. He has a Pro Football Focus grade of 84.4, 23rd among interior defenders.

Tomlinson? His numbers are 22 tackles (12 solo) and no sacks in 343 snaps. His PFF grade is 81.9, 32nd among interior defenders. Tomlinson was voted to the PFF mid-season All-Rookie Team.

Production-wise, the two players are almost even. Which means the Giants are getting the better value, and the better long-term investment.

Hankins is a 25-year-old in his fifth season who got a three-year, $27 million contract from the Colts with $14 million guaranteed. He could be a free agent again before Tomlinson, 23, plays out his four-year, $4.572 million deal.

There are a myriad of reasons for the Giants being 1-8. Losing Hankins is not one of them.