Last week the NFL began allowing free agents to visit teams’ facilities for workouts and physicals. And the New York Giants promptly hosted defensive tackle Daylon Mack for a visit.
Mack was originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens out of Texas A&M in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but he only played 9 defensive snaps before landing on injured reserve (knee/hip) in November. The Ravens waived Mack on Aug. 1 to get to the 80-man roster number.
Mack was quickly claimed by the Detroit Lions, but became a free agent after failing his physical.
The first question to be asked is why the Giants would bring Mack in. They already have four starting caliber defensive tackles in Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and B.J. Hill, not to mention veteran addition Austin Johnson, who is a former second-round pick.
The obvious answer is to get an update on his health and see where he is in his recovery. But that doesn’t answer the question of why they’re interested in the first place.
The answer to that question is simply “because they’re the Giants.”
The Giants have only had one line of general managers since Wellington Mara finally hired a GM in 1979. From there it’s a direct line from George Young, to Ernie Accorsi, to Jerry Reese, to Dave Gettleman. Each served as an assistant to his predecessor and many of the core philosophies stayed the same. One of those core philosophies is Young’s “Planet Theory,” which states that there is only a small number of men walking the planet with a certain blend of size and athleticism, and you have to take the opportunity to acquire those men when it arises.
Weighing in at 6-foot-1, 340 pounds, Mack is a natural fit as a nose tackle, but with the right development he could be much more. As I wrote in my scouting report of him last year:
Mack has the frame and power of a traditional nose tackle, but like Linval Joseph, Johnathan Hankins, Dalvin Tomlinson, and B.J. Hill, Mack has surprising movement skills to go with incredible strength and power.
Mack has a lot of the qualities that the Giants look for in a defensive tackle. He has impressive movement skills for a player who’s build and frame suggest “imobile nose tackle”. He is also impressively, almost stupidly, powerful when he is able to play behind his pads and drive with those massive legs.
But unlike other big defensive tackles, Mack isn’t limited to just occupying blockers and clogging running lanes. He has a legitimate first step and flashes the ability to be a capable interior pass rusher. He needs to continue to develop his hands and acquire a more diverse set of rush moves, but the potential is there.
Where would he fit?
Assuming Mack is healthy, or will soon be healthy, and the Giants sign him, where would he fit in their defensive front?
It would be obvious to slot him in as a nose tackle, but I think Mack has more utility than just clogging A-gaps. He has some intriguing quickness off the snap to go with brutal power, and I think he has upside attacking single gaps. He could pose problems for offenses lined up as a 2, 2i, or 3-technique and asked to penetrate the B or a single A-gap. Even more than last year I believe he would benefit from dropping weight, perhaps even working his way down to 315. That shouldn’t rob him of his power, but increasing his quickness and range would only help his game — as would reducing the stress on his lower body — and perhaps open up the 5 or 4i techniques to him as well.
Patrick Graham seems to want to run every defensive alignment and combination he can to keep offenses guessing. Having a deep and talented rotation of tackles gives him more tools in the toolbox, as well as the ability to keep those big guys fresh throughout the game.
Of course, that’s all theoretical. Mack was just in for a visit, but any time the Giants show interest in a defensive tackle, especially a dancing elephant of a DT, we should treat it seriously.