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NFL Free Agent Profile: Johnathan Hankins, DT, New York Giants

Zac Stevens Avatar
March 5, 2017

 

Throughout the offseason, we’ll be profiling players who may end up in Denver when all is said and done with NFL Free Agency. The Broncos clearly have plenty of holes to fill before they get back to Super-Bowl form and we’ll be examining a long list of players they may choose to help the franchise do just that.

When defensive tackle Sylvester Williams entered the NFL with the Denver Broncos he was 24-years old. Now, at 24-years old, New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins will enter free agency for the first time in his career with four years in the league already under his belt. The former second-round pick out of The Ohio State University in 2013—21 picks after Williams—has been an integral part to one of the best defensive lines in the league the past few seasons.

According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Hankins can expect to get a hefty pay check in free agency, which starts March 9, around the likes of five years, $43 million—an average of $8.6 million per year. The Giants would like to retain the 6-foot-2, 320-pound lineman, but the open market could take him away from New York.

Strengths

Considering Hankins’ age, talent and productivity, there isn’t much not to like about the defensive tackle. Coming out of college, and early in his professional career, Hankins was believed to be a run stuffer in the middle of the field. While he is that, he has surprised many with his ability to rush the passer and disrupt the backfield as well. In his second season (2014) he recorded 7 sacks and this past season he had 3 sacks, eight tackles for a loss and 10 quarterback hits.

As a 16 game starter in 2016, Hankins helped the Giants finish with the fourth-best run defense—only giving up 88.6 yards per game and the second-fewest points. He has also been praised as a good teammate and hard worker.

Weaknesses

There aren’t very many downsides when evaluating Hankins potential. However, according to Pro Football Focus, he only graded out as an average player last season, but received very high grades the two years before. In fact, he was named to PFF’s All-Pro Team for his play in 2014.

Previous injury history is also a minor concern with Hankins. In 2015 he tore his pectoral muscle in Week 9, which caused him to be placed on season-ending injured reserve.

How he fits in Denver

Hankins would actually make a lot of sense on the Broncos’ defense. While he was a defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme with the Giants, his transition to nose tackle in Denver’s 3-4 wouldn’t be difficult with the style of game that he plays. As a very good run stuffer and above average interior rusher, Hankins would immediately be the starter at nose tackle and would give a significant boost to the Broncos’ defensive line.

While an average of around $8 million per year isn’t cheap, that could end up being a good value for a young player that likely hasn’t hit his ceiling. If Hankins lands in the Mile High City he would be the answer in the middle of the defensive line for years to come.

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