In this review, we look at the Giants defensive line, which excludes the edge rushers who during 4-3 alignments, would put their hand in the dirt.
2018 roster: Kerry Wynn, R.J. McIntosh, John Jenkins, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, Josh Mauro, Mario Edwards Jr.
General manager Dave Gettleman caused more than a few eyebrows to raise when the team announced it had traded nose tackle and run-stopper extraordinaire Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions for a fifth-round pick.
Gettleman’s reason, as revealed in his year-end press conference, was that the team had a pair of younger players, Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill, who were playing out of position while Harrison was with the team, an occurrence that was fixed after the run stuffer was traded.
With Harrison gone, there was some concern that the Giants run defense would take a hit. At first, this seemed to be true, but by season’s end, the difference in the average net rushing yardage allowed with and without Harrison came down to just 8.25 yards (113.9 yards per game with Harrison and 122.3 without him).
Second-year man Tomlinson appeared to still be growing into his new role once Harrison was traded, but by year’s end, he seemed to settle down somewhat in his new role.
Meanwhile Hill surprised some with his athleticism, especially on the pass rush. Hill held the team lead in sacks until the final game of the season, recording 5.5 sacks until edge rusher Olivier Vernon passed him, to finish with 7.0 for the team lead.
The most underrated star of the defensive line though was Wynn, who per Pro Football Focus, finished with a team-best 12.1 percent run-stop percentage.
Wynn demonstrated that he became a complete defensive lineman, recording a career-high 21 total pressures and matching his career-high in run stops (20) set in 2015. His other stats included three tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
Wynn also finished fourth on special teams with eight total tackles (four solo).
Lastly, Mario Edwards, who was a post-training camp waiver wire pickup — he was presumably added to provide depth once Josh Mauro began his four-week league-imposed suspension — showed some flash here and there as both a run stopper and a pass rusher. Edwards recorded 2.0 sacks and 5 quarterback hits, generating 11 total pressures.
2019 look ahead
The Giants have a good nucleus here with Tomlinson, Hill and McIntosh, but they need to add more to this unit.
Gettleman himself has pointed to other teams who are seven or eight men deep on the defensive line, something that the Giants really didn’t have this year. With a deep draft class on the horizon, look for the Giants to fill in at this position both via the draft and free agency.
Wynn, Mauro, Jenkins and Edwards are all scheduled to be free agents; of those, the most likely to be offered a deal to return are Wynn and Edwards, both of whom played well in their snaps.
Wynn, however, is probably going to draw a nice little market for himself, so his return isn’t necessarily a slam dunk.
The good news is that this year’s draft class is said to be very deep in defensive line help, particularly along the interior, which just so happens to be a spot where the Giants can use another force to pair with Hill, who showed some surprising pass rush ability as a rookie.