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Can Dalvin Tomlinson buck Giants’ trend of churning through defensive tackles?

Tomlinson entering final year of rookie contract

Chicago Bears v New York Giants
Dalvin Tomlinson
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Giants have developed a tradition in recent years. No, we’re not talking about losing football games — which, well, has more or less become a tradition for most of the last decade.

We’re talking about cycling through defensive tackles.

Not once since drafting Cornelius Griffin in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft have the Giants drafted and then made a subsequent long-term commitment to a defensive tackle.

There was Griffin (four seasons), William Joseph (2003, Round 1, four seasons), Barry Cofield (2006, Round 4, five seasons), Linval Joseph (2010, Round 2, four seasons), Marvin Austin (2011, Round 2, two seasons), Johnathan Hankins (2013, Round 2, four seasons).

Now there is Dalvin Tomlinson.

Drafted in Round 2 of the 2017 draft, Tomlinson is now entering his fourth season, the final one of his rookie contract.

Will Tomlinson buck the trend, or will the 2020 season be his last with the Giants?

Let’s take a closer look at the 26-year-old former Alabama tackle.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 318
Age: 26
Position: Defensive tackle
Experience: 3
Contract: Year 4 of four-year, $4.572 million deal

How he got here

Tomlinson has started all 48 games he has played for the Giants over three seasons, and productivity-wise has gotten better each season. In 2019, he set career-highs in sacks (3.5), tackles for loss (7) and quarterback hits (9). He has for the most part been a run-stuffer, but the numbers indicate that for the first time in 2019 he showed some pass rush impact.

2020 outlook

Tomlinson mostly played the nose tackle role in 2019, with Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and B.J. Hill flanking him.

How the Giants new coaching staff, with Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator, will employ the team’s defensive linemen, is uncertain. There will be a mix of 3-4 and 4-3 looks, and Tomlinson should play a key part in what looks to be the strength of the Giants’ defense.

Can he continue to show improving pass-rush ability? Whether that happens or not might be a key to whether or not he returns to the team in 2021. In truth, Tomlinson has already been replaced long-term by Lawrence, Hill, and perhaps Williams.

The Giants may end up choosing after this season between paying Williams or Tomlinson. How that plays out is impossible to guess at this point in time. For now, Tomlinson should continue to be a quality player on a good defensive line.