Generally speaking, run stuffing defensive tackles are an afterthought when compared to edge rushers or even pass-rushing defensive tackles. However, having a dependable rock in the middle of the defense to absorb blocks and stop runs up the middle makes the entire defense better.
It’s a fact the New York Giants learned well over the last year. While they had many defensive investments return impressive dividends in 2016, none helped provide as much of an identity as Damon Harrison. In 2015 the Giants had the 24th rated run defense, giving up 121.4 yards per game. In 2016 they had the third rated rush defense, giving up just 88.6 yards per game.
However, the big guys need rest, and it might behoove the Giants to bring in another big, powerful defensive tackle to spell Harrison.
Alabama’s Dalvin Tomlinson is a similarly powerful (and high motor) nose tackle, who served as the rock in the middle of one of college football’s best defenses. Could he be Harrison’s understudy in 2017?
- Powerful tackle who commands double teams
- Uses his hands very well to fight off blockers
- High motor player who plays through the whistle
- Plays with good leverage and a wide base. Difficult to move off the line of scrimmage and can bull blockers into the backfield.
- Impressive balance (3-time state wrestling champion)
- Gets his hands into passing lanes. (Former soccer goalie)
- Patient and disciplined run defender who can will hold a block and maintain his gap discipline.
- Reportedly a very motivated and high-character player. Also reportedly “wowed” in interviews at the Senior Bowl.
- Not much of a pass rushing threat in college. Has better than advertised agility and burst. He could be hidden by the surrounding talent and Alabama’s scheme.
- Was surrounded by an incredibly talented defense in college. How he plays when talent levels are more equal is a question.
- Played less than half of Alabama’s defensive snaps for most of his college career. Conditioning and stamina are question marks.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
Tomlinson is a fit in any defense.
The nose tackle position is generally much more important than it gets credit for. A good one can help provide a defense with an identity and foundation for everything they want to do. Poor play at the position can leave a defense soft up the middle and that is a hard way to win.
If the Giants lose Johnathan Hankins in free agency, Tomlinson can come in and immediately help take the pressure off Damon Harrison when it comes to stuffing the run or in goal-line and short-yardage situations. He has a frame that the Giants have shown an affinity towards, with good length, bulk, long arms, and big hands, and by all reports he is a remarkable young man off the football field.
Note: Tomlinson is DT No. 54
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 84th overall
CBS Sports - 81st overall
Draft Countdown - 105th overall
Draft Tek - 54th overall
Tomlinson has somehow managed to fly under the radar at Alabama. Granted, run defenders and block eaters rarely get much hype, especially during the season, and being surrounded by the rest of that almost absurdly talented Alabama defense. As of now, Tomlinson is generally considered a late day-2 or early/mid day-3 pick, but if he has a strong combine and continues to ace his interviews, he could help his draft stock.
I could see the Giants being interested in Tomlinson. They tried several times to add a high-end run stuffer before signing Damon Harrison in the 2016 offseason. Tomlinson’s game reminds of Harrison’s (perhaps Diet-Snacks), and combined with his reputation off the field, he could be a player the are attracted to at the end of April.