With Shelby Harris and DeMarcus Walker set to join Jurrell Casey in unrestricted free agency, the Broncos look like they have a rather large need along the defensive line. Over George Paton’s time with the Minnesota Vikings, the front office barely hesitated in throwing money at the line of scrimmage, so there’s a decent chance a veteran draws the Broncos’ interest.
Could it be a former Giant?
Dalvin Tomlinson, DL, New York Giants
Weight: 318 lbs.
Experience: 4 NFL Seasons
Tomlinson spent his days on campus scrapping with future Pros for playing time, so it should come as no surprise Tomlinson was Pro ready. The second round pick has played in every Giants game since he was drafted in 2017, notching 58 individual pressures, eight sacks, 21 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and five batted passes over that time.
Like many teams around the NFL, the Giants look like they could face cap constraints this off-season. With a tight budget, a coaching staff set to make moves in their second season, and a number of big names like Leonard Williams to retain, there’s reason to believe Tomlinson will hit the market.
A leader on and off the field. We're proud to have Dalvin Tomlinson as the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. Learn more about the incredible work Dalvin does in the community and why giving back is such an important part of his life. pic.twitter.com/CY5PFPwCwD— New York Giants (@Giants) December 10, 2020
Why it makes sense
The Broncos’ defensive line could use another veteran presence. Dre’Mont Jones and Mike Purcell are the only proven contributors and both dealt with injuries last season. McTelvin Agim showed a glimpse of what he’s capable of, but also struggled against the run.
Tomlinson would immediately provide Fangio with a top flight plugger who’s logged 588 or more snaps in each of the last four seasons. Tomlinson is a capable two gapper who displays the kind of feel for when to shed and make a play in his vicinity.
In addition to what Tomlinson offers against the run, he’d be useful as a penetrator on stunts because he has the requisite athleticism and strength to occupy multiple blockers in order to free up loopers. This is a strength of his game that would shine with the Broncos because there’s so many other pass rushers who could benefit from it.
As a 27-year-old, there’s reason to believe Tomlinson has plenty of juice left in the tank. With Purcell on a very team-friendly contract and coming off injury, the Broncos could potentially add Tomlinson for a year while Paton sees what else he has along the line.
Why it doesn’t make sense
He’s not a true pass rusher, first and foremost. Per Sports Info Solutions’ charting, Tomlinson has never generated pressure on more than 5.8% of his snaps in his NFL career. He doesn’t have the kind of burst or twitch to become the kind of threat to the quarterback opposing line coaches need to focus on. In an era where every down is a passing down, Tomlinson’s limitations here should dictate his market value. With a thin free agent class, there’s reason to believe he’ll make more than the Broncos should pay for a run stopper.
Tomlinson’s medical history isn’t a recent concern, but he did tear an ACL his senior year in high school and the other one in 2013.
Improvising at its finest for the big man. DL Dalvin Tomlinson riding "in" an IndyCar. pic.twitter.com/YmgpYImfm5— Terrin Waack (@TerrinWaack) April 19, 2017
I’m eager to see what happens in the coming days, as teams around the league need to make cuts to comply with the cap. As more talent is added to the pool, there’s potential for a guy like Dalvin Tomlinson to slip through the cracks a bit and become a really nice value signing for a team that accepts what he is.
At the same time, Pro Football Focus currently ranks him as their second best defensive lineman. Jason Fitzgerald at Over the Cap places his 2020 valuation at $8.8 million. There are still teams in the league that devout an inordinate amount of resources to stopping the run. If Tomlinson is receiving offers in the eight to 10 million dollar ballpark in free agency, I hope the Broncos look elsewhere.