79° Good Afternoon
79° Good Afternoon

Giants stay physical, select big DT Johnathan Hankins in 2nd round

Ohio State defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins runs a

Ohio State defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins runs a drill during the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. (Feb. 25, 2013) Credit: AP

The rest of the league can have its spreads and pistols and run options. The Giants seem intent on turning back the clock on the NFL by a few decades.

For the second day in a row they grabbed a big-bodied player who should help them control the line of scrimmage. Friday night it was defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, a 320-pound mountain from Ohio State who should help shore up the middle of the run defense. On Thursday the Giants took offensive tackle Justin Pugh of Syracuse.

"You always want big bodies,'' Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross said. "It starts up front on both sides of the ball. We wanted to get bigger and more physical up front and we feel like we've done that with these two.''

That was a directive that came from president and CEO John Mara at the end of the 2012 season after the Giants allowed 129.1 rushing yards a game and more offensive yards than every other NFL team but one. It was echoed by Tom Coughlin. And it has been carried through by the rest of the front office in the last few days.

The Giants took a defensive end, though not quite as big, in the third round, choosing 6-4, 250-pound Damontre Moore of Texas A & M with the 81st overall pick. A converted outside linebacker, Moore comes with some baggage: He reportedly was arrested for marijuana possession in 2011.

Hankins, who earned the name "Big Hank'' when he showed up at Ohio State as a 340-pound freshman, is a bit of a throwback. While most defensive tackles these days rely on speed and quickness and easily can move to the outside if needed, Hankins is a monolith in the middle.

Ross called him "a rarity'' and a player who "does the dirty work.''

The Giants have good depth at the position with returning starter Linval Joseph flanked by veterans such as Shaun Rogers and new additions Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. They also have young players in Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin.

Just as they did with Austin, the Giants believe they have a first-round talent in a second-round selection with Hankins. Of course, Austin has not panned out, and there are some concerns outside the Giants that Hankins also might be a risk to bust. The first phrase of his scouting report on compares him to Vernon Gholston, the first-round pick of the Jets who tanked.

During his career at Ohio State, Hankins steadily lost weight. He was 340 as a freshman, 330 as a sophomore and a little more than 320 last season. The Giants would like to see him lose a little more weight.

Even at his current size, Hankins has impressive athleticism. He was a three-down player at Ohio State and sometimes was on the field for 60 snaps a game. Active snaps. The Giants won't ask him to do that. He'll be a rotational player at first, a two-down lineman who eats up space and blockers and running backs. But he also has some shimmy. He even blocked a kick against Purdue in 2012.

"You don't see too many big guys running side to side making plays and playing all the positions on the front,'' Hankins said. "I feel like I'm the best, so I'm going to keep working hard.''

New York Sports