Everyone knows the struggles the New York Giants' defensive line encountered in 2012, as they were unable to generate their usual pass rush, thus leading to a disappointing season and a 31st overall rank on defense.
Since the end of the season, General Manager Jerry Reese addressed the middle of the line with three potentially big moves: landing free agent tackles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson from their division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, and drafting Johnathan Hankins in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Hankins is a very large individual at 6'3" and 320 pounds; a weight that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer had him slim down to in order to be more effective in college and should translate well into the NFL to get by opposing offensive lineman. In an interview with Giants.com, Hankins wants to prove to his new team that he's not just a "big guy" and can provide his team with a lot of ability.
“That I was not just a big guy,” the Ohio State product said about what he wanted to prove from day one with the Giants. “I can move, I can pass rush, and I can be a factor out there. With the schemes that they’ve got now, they’ve got me basically playing what I was in college – a little end, a little inside, so pretty much everywhere on the line. I’m just learning all the positions and the plays.”
Hankins currently is behind both Jenkins and Linval Joseph on the depth chart, but with the Giants always rotating lineman to keep fresh bodies in to wear opponents down, Hankins will have an opportunity to bolster a pass rush in need of new blood and fresh legs. While at Ohio State, Hankins was coached by former three-time Super Bowl winning linebacker Mike Vrabel, who played for the New England Patriots and is now the defensive line coach for the Buckeyes.
Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn is very grateful that Hankins was able to get the type of coaching from a long-time veteran in the NFL, and Hankins is using what he learned from Vrabel and applying it at the professional level.
“It was an honor for [Vrabel] to coach us, seeing him play in the NFL and winning Super Bowls,” Hankins said. “He really brought the physical standpoint to the defensive line. He was very, ‘Never let an offensive lineman dictate or get their hands on you.’ He really stressed more technique and hands, and I’m trying to carry that on here. I know that’s what coach Nunn stresses, too. I’m in a good place.”
The man known as "Big Hank" will be competing with guys like Shaun Rogers, Markus Kuhn, Marvin Austin and Frank Okam, plus Rogers for playing time in 2013 behind the starters of Jenkins and Joseph.
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