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Giants need Dalvin Tomlinson to build off impressive rookie year

Second-year man will move to defensive end in 3-4 alignment

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants
Dalvin Tomlinson
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an impressive rookie season Dalvin Tomlinson will have a somewhat different role for the New York Giants in 2018. Let’s look at the second-year defensive lineman and how well-suited he is for that role as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp in just a few days.

The basics

Age: 24
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 317
Position: Defensive line
Experience: 1

2017 season in review

The Giants may have had a miserable 2017 season, but you certainly can’t blame their interior run defense. Damon Harrison posted the best Pro Football Focus run grade among interior defenders for the second straight season, and Tomlinson was PFF’s highest-graded interior defender among rookies.

Tomlinson’s PFF grade put him in the “above average” category. He had 50 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit.

2018 outlook

Tomlinson’s role will be somewhat different this season. Rather than spending most of his time as a 3-tech defensive tackle, he will be a 5-tech defensive end when the Giants are in their base 3-4 defense.

The run-game responsibilities won’t be that much different for Tomlinson, whose job in college at Alabama and again last season was often to occupy and stonewall the running game.

“We know it’s going to start with the run game and if we’re going to be good in the run game, it’s going to start with those interior guys up front,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said during mandatory mini-camp.

Stationed at defensive end, though, there will be times when the Giants need push and play-making from Tomlinson as a pass rusher. That wasn’t something he did much in 2017, or at Alabama as he had only 4 sacks in 38 collegiate games.

Bettcher was asked last month if he believed Tomlinson and rookie B.J. Hill, a natural nose tackle playing defensive end in the base defense, could provide pass rush.

“I do think so. I do think so. And one of the things when we drafted B.J., that was part of us selecting him because we thought he has a potential to be a three-down player. Whether that’s a middle push guy, whether that’s a guy that can beat some guards and create some disruption for either edge players, or edge pressure guys,” Bettcher said. “Dalvin’s the same kind of player. Has some slipperiness to him, has the ability to get on edges. Excited to get to – again, I keep saying that, but I’m anxious to get to training camp to really see where some of that’s at. But I do expect those guys to be able to help us.”

For all of the ability he showed in 2017, it will be exciting to watch Tomlinson grow and develop as a player in a different role this season.