A look at the Guys Inside
By Michael Stewart
The Giants loss a big piece of the DL this off-season with the departure of Jonathan Hankins (Colts). Despite this , DC Steve Spagnulo has been very optimistic regarding his group of DT’s in camp. However; with only Damon Harrison as a reliable DT with playing experience and production; do the Giants have enough talent and depth at the DT position to feel comfortable for 2017. Here’s a look at each player:
Damon Harrison (FA signing 2016): Harrison had a very solid season for the Giants in 2016; which resulted in being named 1st team All-Pro. Harrison has tremendous size and strength with surprising quickness and athleticism for his size. Arguably the best inside run defender in the NFL, the Giants are counting on him to continue his success in 2017.
Dalvin Tomlinson (2nd round selection in the ’17 draft): Tomlinson was a solid pick and a big need with the departure of Jonathan Hankins in FA. Tomlinson has good size and is very mobile as a DT; which will compliment well along side Harrison. A combination of strength and high football IQ enables Tomlinson to react well at the point of attack. He can make plays behind the line of scrimmage. The Giants will him every opportunity to secure a starting position.
Jay Bromley (3rd round selection in the ’14 draft): Many viewed Bromley’s 3rd selection premature by GM Reese and thus far he hasn’t developed as well as the Giants had hoped. Bromley combines decent size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He has improved his play against the run but he has not developed into an inside pass rusher. Bromley will need to step up in 2017 as competition will be fierce for playing time.
Robert Thomas (Claimed off waivers from the Panthers ’16): Thomas played in eight regular-season games with no starts and finished the year with five tackles and one sack. In 2014, he was an UDFA signed by the Redskins after the draft. Thomas has played for several teams since 2014 (Washington, Seattle, New England, Miami, Carolina and now with the Giants.) Thomas’s many travels to various teams is a bit puzzling as he is a big, strong tackle who plays hard. This could be his last chance to finally find a team and settle into a system.
Corbin Bryant (UFA signed in 2017). Bryant’s time in the NFL is very similar to Thomas as he has spent time with several teams (Chicago, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and finally with the Giants). He has decent size at 6’4/300lbs and has shown flashes of production against the run and the pass. Staying healthy has been his major obstacle.
Jarron Jones (UDFA signed in ’17): Lots of buzz going around that the Giants are strongly considering to convert Jones from DT to OT. Jones will be featured on NYGiantsRush.com twice (OT/DT). He may wind up back competing at the DT position. Jones played at Notre Dame as a DT and can stack at the point-of-attack against the run and flashes as a power pass rusher. When motivated, Jones is a force on the DL and won nearly every one on one match up in 2016. However; work ethic and competitiveness have been questioned. Jones has an upside but he has to want it. Whether the Giants commit to Jones as a OT or decide to keep him as a DT is still unclear.
Josh Banks (UDFA signed in ’17): Banks played college ball at Wake Forest and was a 3 year starter. Under sized in today’s DT at 6’3/277, but is a hard-working defensive tackle prospect who projects as a three-technique player on Sundays. Relatively athletic, plays with proper pad level and moves well to every direction of the field. Slides laterally pursuing the action down the line of scrimmage and outside the box, effectively works his hands and shows explosiveness. Giants could utilize his talents as a roving DL (inside/outside). Long shot to crack the 53 man roster, but could make the practice squad, if he clears waivers.
Final Thoughts: The loss of Jonathan Hankins will not be determined until we see how well the above candidates perform once pre-season games begin. 2nd round pick Dalvin Tomlinson has the inside track based on all the reports and comments given by the Giants coaching staff. In my opinion, he has a higher ceiling in terms of overall talent than the rest of the DT on the roster.
The biggest question marks for me is how Robert Thomas and Jay Bromley perform during the pre-season with each given extended playing time. Their performance could determine what position Jarron Jones plays as well (DT or OT). Originally, I had Jones leap frogging over Thomas and Bromley and also Bryant for playing time. However; if Jones does make the transition over to OT, that will only mean that Thomas, Bromley and Bryant are playing well. This should be an interesting position to watch as the pre-season unfolds as the Giants kept only 4 DT on the 53 man roster last season.