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Giants 2021 draft: How big a priority should defensive tackle be?

Could Giants follow familiar pattern of seeking mid-round help at this position?

NCAA Football: Syracuse at North Carolina State
Alim McNeill (29)
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

As successful as the New York Giants were in filling some obvious needs during free agency, they were never going to be able to fill every hole. Salary cap constraints also caused them to end up creating a need or two, as well.

So, the Giants have critical decisions to make in the 2021 NFL Draft regarding how to prioritize addressing the talent gaps that exist on their current roster. Some of that is going to be beyond their control — the Giants pick 11th and will have to react in each round to what happens in front of them.

Between now and Round 1 of the draft on April 29 we will summarize some of the positions where the Giants could look for help in the upcoming draft.

We begin with defensive tackle.

Free-agent loss: Dalvin Tomlinson
Free-agent addition: Danny Shelton (one-year, $1.127 million, with $987,500 guaranteed)
Current roster: B.J. Hill, Dexter Lawrence, R.J. McIntosh, Leonard Williams, David Moa, Austin Johnson, Danny Shelton

The Giants lost Tomlinson, a quality nose tackle drafted by Jerry Reese in the second round of the 2017 draft, when he signed a two-year, $21 million ($20.8 million guaranteed) with the Minnesota Vikings.

Johnson and Shelton will help make up for the loss of Tomlinson. Both, though, are journeymen on one-year contracts. The Giants have shown a preference for not playing Dexter Lawrence a high percentage of time on the nose. So, there is no long-term solution at the nose.

The 11th overall pick seems far too early for the Giants to select a nose tackle. Besides, Alabama’s Christian Barmore [prospect profile] — the draft’s highest-rated interior defensive linemen, per most big board — likely should not be a consideration that early.

The Giants have had a history of selecting defensive tackles in the middle to late rounds of the draft, and of often finding good players when they do so. I fully expect the Giants to try and reprise that history somewhere in Rounds 2 thru 6.

Some of the names to know

Levi Onwuzurike, Washington [Prospect profile]
Tommy Togiai, Ohio State [Prospect profile]
Alim McNeill, N.C. State [Prospect profile]
Tyler Shelvin, LSU [Prospect profile]
Cameron Sample, Tulane [Prospect profile]
Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh [Prospect profile]
Marlon Tuipulotu, USC [Prospect profile]
Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA [Prospect profile]
Marvin Wilson, Florida State [Prospect profile]

Valentine’s View

Tyler Shelvin, the 350-pound LSU nose tackle, seems like a perfect Dave Gettleman draft pick. If the Giants believe they can help Shelvin manage his weight, a mid-round selection of Shelvin wouldn’t shock me ... I’m not a Jaylen Twyman fan. There’s some pass rush ability there, but I don’t see a player who can defend the run. That’s a problem ... Please don’t try telling me the Giants shouldn’t draft Osa Odighizuwa because his brother, Owa, was a flop with the Giants. That is not fair to the young man, and has nothing to do with it ... I really like Alim McNeill. Weirdly, though, I’m worried about the 22 pounds he lost since last season. He told me on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast that he added weight before the 2020 season and played at 339 or so pounds, ostensibly to handle double teams. Well, by his Pro Day he was back to 317 pounds. So, if he needed the extra weight in the ACC and doesn’t have it now, how is he going to handle NFL double teams from the nose tackle spot?