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Austin Johnson — defensive tackle depth, or more than that?

Johnson never met expectations in Tennessee after being a second-round draft pick by the Titans

NFL: NOV 18 Titans at Colts
Austin Johnson
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dave Gettleman often talks about the importance of building a deep rotation of defensive linemen. He believes not only that big men help NFL teams compete, but that not having enough of them on the defensive side causes them to wear down late in games.

Gettleman and the New York Giants hope the free-agent signing of defensive tackle Austin Johnson will help create the kind of rotation they are seeking.

Let’s take a closer look.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 314
Age: 26
Position: Defensive tackle
Experience: 4
Contract: One-year, $1.5 million

How he got here

A second-round pick in 2016, Johnson spent four seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He was a rotational player, starting only 13 of 58 games and registering only 2.5 sacks in four seasons. Three times he has finished seasons between 20 and 25 tackles.

SB Nation’s Music City Miracles believed Johnson was “a disappointment” in Tennessee who “eventually developed into a decent rotational run stuffer, but he never contributed anything from a pass rush standpoint.”

The Giants signed Johnson to a one-year deal during the offseason.

2020 outlook

The Giants have Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Leonard Williams atop their defensive line depth chart. Third-year man B.J. Hill is, on paper, probably the fourth lineman. Johnson, reunited with former Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer, might challenge Hill for those snaps. At the very least, he likely supplants RJ McIntosh and Chris Slayton as an upgrade to the Giants’ depth.

The Giants likely hope that reuniting with Spencer, whom Johnson calls an “amazing coach,” will help him reach more of the potential that made him a second-round selection.