New York Giants find their Dalvin Tomlinson replacement, sign DT Danny Shelton

Alexander Wilson
new york giants, danny shelton
Oct 18, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Danny Shelton (71) walks on the field before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Replacing Dalvin Tomlinson will be no easy feat for the New York Giants, as he commanded significant attention at nose tackle and was one of the most double-teamed interior defenders in football. The Giants re-signed Austin Johnson to a one-year, $3 million deal for the 2021 season, but they can’t expect him to be their bonafide starter at 0-tech.

Johnson was more of a rotational piece in 2020, accumulating 18 combined tackles and 1.0 sacks in 16 appearances. He only participated in 21% of defensive snaps, indicating he is a depth piece that can mitigate fatigue for the starters.

However, the Giants have found Tomlinson’s replacement, as they brought in former Detroit Lions DT Danny Shelton for a visit on Monday afternoon, agreeing to a one-year deal.

Shelton, it’s coming off a two-year, $8M deal with the Detroit Lions, but they released him due to a failed physical destination.

Shelton is a quality player who will fill a big need for the Giants in the interior. At 6’2” and 345 pounds, Shelton is nicknamed “feast mode,” collecting 37 combined tackles, four quarterback hits, and 1.0 sacks over 12 starts in 2020. Shelton spent time with the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, and Lions, giving him a bit of familiarity with the Giants’ coaching staff.

Ultimately, replacing Tomlinson’s production is impossible, even with a player like Shelton, who takes up space in the interior and can command double teams. He played 44% of snaps in 2020, while Dalvin featured in 60%, primarily due to the former missing four games.

This will likely be a cheap signing for the Giants, as nose tackle is probably the most replaceable position on the interior, let alone the defense. There is a possibility the Giants address the position in the draft with a youth prospect as well, who can develop in their scheme. I expect general manager Dave Gettleman to allocate a mid-round pick on a big interior defender with upside, someone like North Carolina State defender Alim McNeil.