All of the focus on Tuesday was on Dexter Lawrence, and what impact the 17th overall pick can have on the New York Giants’ defensive line. Even though Lawrence is “not everybody else” no one can play 1 on 5 against opposing offensive lines.
Let’s look at the rest of the defensive linemen, what kind of camps they are having thus far, and what impact they might be expected to have in 2019.
Entering his third year, it’s readily apparent what the Giants think Tomlinson is. After a year in which he didn’t have so much as a quarterback hit, it’s easy to see the Giants believe he is a two-down run stuffer. They will use him at nose tackle with Lawrence at the 5-technique when they are on the field together. Tomlinson will come off the field in obvious passing situations.
Hill came out of North Carolina State as a run-stuffing nose tackle. The biggest question about him was whether or not he could provide any pass rush help, a little bit like the situation with Lawrence this time around. Then, the Giants surprisingly moved Hill to an outside position in their 3-4 and he responded with a 5.5-sack season.
Was that a mirage? Can the 311-pounder really be a pass rusher in the NFL while lined up over a guard or tackle?
Teammate Markus Golden, owner of a 12.5-sack 2016 season, thinks he can.
“His get off is amazing. The way he gets off the ball and the way he uses his hands,” Golden told me. “The power. He can finesse. He’s got a bright future.”
Hill is emerging as a player not afraid to give a little trash talk to the offense, even directing some toward Saquon Barkley in a recent practice.
The 2018 fifth-round pick missed all of the spring, all of training camp and the preseason, and more than half the regular season due to an illness that remains undisclosed. He played in six games at the end of the season with five tackles and a quarterback hit, but there is no way what he showed was representative of what he might be with a full opportunity to train.
McIntosh has had that this time around, and he looks like a player who will be a useful part of the Giants’ defensive line rotation.
“Any time you have a chance to have a whole offseason, it helps you take a leap forward, so yes he has improved,” Emanuel said. “Just overall, his footwork, his technique, his hand and his eyes and feet, just things you look for in a defensive lineman.”
The Giants signed the former Arizona Cardinal to provide depth along the front line. The 27-year-old had 5.5 sacks, the only ones of his career, playing for James Bettcher in 2017. Pierre didn’t work on the field in the spring, but has practiced throughout training camp.
“Olsen Pierre obviously has some experience in the defense, in the scheme he played out there with Bettch (James Bettcher) in Arizona for four years, so he has a lot of knowledge of the defense,” Emanuel said. “He has a skillset that gives a lot of versatility where he can play anywhere on the line the scrimmage. He does well against the run and he has some pass rush abilities, so we’re expecting some really good things out of OP.”
The seventh-round pick is kind of a ghost. He has not really been noticed on the field. He isn’t a guy who is is demand from media members. He’s just a young interior linemen trying to figure out the NFL and earn a roster spot, which is no guarantee since he was the 245th player selected.
“We think Chris is, as all the young players are, they’re looking to improve and work their technique and continue to get better week in and week out and day in and day out,” Emanuel said. “Chris has the ability and has some skill, so he can do some good things and hopefully we’re expecting some good things out of Chris.”
To be honest, it was a bit of a surprise when the Giants re-signed veteran nose tackle John Jenkins. I have a hard time seeing him on the 53-man roster, unless there are injuries. He is probably an insurance policy.
Jake Ceresna has made a couple of plays working with the third group, but is probably a practice squad candidate, at best.
I haven’t really got anything for you on Freedom Akinmoladum or Alex Jenkins. Neither has really been noticeable in any of the practices I have seen.
One of the things that is apparent is that the Giants are trying to find players who can fit in all three spots when they are in their base 3-4, as well as ones versatile enough to also function when they are using four down linemen in sub packages.
“I think as a defensive line coach and as a coach in general, you want guys to have the versatility to play a number of positions and these guys are certainly able to do that,” Emanuel said. “We really like that a lot. Sometimes they can line up and play nose tackle, they can play the 3-technique, they can play defensive end within this series or for a series. So that gives them a great opportunity to exploit some matchups that we might have and it just helps them where offenses can’t say this guy’s only playing this. It creates some problems for the offense.”