The New York Giants may be running thin on spending money, however, that hasn’t stopped them from shopping around for low-priced, under the radar signings.
On Thursday, they found just that, as The Athletic’s Dan Duggan has reported that the G-Men are signing defensive tackle Austin Johnson. Johnson has spent his entire four-year NFL career thus far as a member of the Tennessee Titans since being selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft out of Penn State.
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Johnson Has Ties to Giants Coaching Staff
Johnson, a New Jersey native, started for the Penn State Nittany Lions from 2013 through 2016. During his time at University Park, he happened to be coached by newly-hired Giants defensive line coach Sean Spencer, better known to some as Coach Chaos.
Johnson was lauded for his hustle and athletic prowess during his time at Penn State. Johnson’s former Head Coach while in college, James Franklin, even went on record stating “Johnson is probably the most athletic 314-pound guy I’ve been around.”
Speaking of his athleticism, while attending high school at St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, New Jersey, Johnson earned All-State honors in basketball.
Johnson Will Serve as a Quality Depth Player in New York
Johnson may have not lived up to his second-round billing coming out of college, as his stats certainly don’t jump off the screen. In his four seasons with Tennessee, he compiled 83 tackles and just 2.5 sacks.
However, Johnson proved to be versatile during his time with the Titans, moving up and down the Tennessee defensive line, operating from positions such as a nose tackle, outside to a five-technique in three-man fronts.
In New York, Johnson will likely be asked to serve in a rotational backup role, as the Giants’ defensive line is arguably their strongest unit on the entire team. Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence will almost undoubtedly man the three starting jobs along the Giants’ front, with a ton of BJ Hill sprinkled in.
Johnson is a low-risk signing who will bring viable ability and flexibility to the Giants’ defensive front which is projected to feature a multitude of fronts under the watchful eye of head coach Joe Judge, who is bringing over a similar philosophy to one that was run during his time in New England.