Giants Sign Former XFL Defender, Eagles Draft Pick

Giants Sign Elijah Qualls

Getty Elijah Qualls #98 of the Philadelphia Eagles tackles quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals.

The New York Giants roster shuffle forges on ahead of Saturday’s preseason opener against the New York Jets. The team has announced the signing of defensive tackle Elijah Qualls. At the same time, defensive lineman RJ McIntosh and wide receiver Derrick Dillon were released. 

The addition of Qualls re-inserts the 26-year-old back into the NFC East, where he spent the 2017 season as a member of the Super Bowl 52 winning-Philadelphia Eagles. A sixth-round pick out of Washington, Qualls was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection and conference champion during his days with the Huskies. As for his pro career, the California native appeared in six regular-season games during his stint with the Birds, and has also spent time with the Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In 2019, Qualls jumped from the NFL to XFL, when he was drafted in the third round by the DC Defenders. Qualls registered nine combined tackles, one tackle for loss and one fumble recovery in five games with the team prior to the league suspending its operations.

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Replacing Dalvin Tomlinson

While Qualls will do his best to latch on to a roster spot in East Rutherford, chances are he won’t factor much into the rotation of players tasked to pick up the slack for the departed Dalvin Tomlinson. That will almost certainly fall on the likes of Austin Johnson, the always consistent BJ Hill and former first-round pick Danny Shelton. The former looks to be first up to bat, as he’s been named the team’s starter at nose tackle in their first unofficial depth chart of 2021.

Johnson, a former second-round pick of the Tennessee Titans, appeared in all 16 games during his inaugural season with the Giants last year. His production was moderate, amassing 18 total tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.0 sack — of course, the stats don’t tell the entire story for a player at his position. As for Hill, he hasn’t started a game since 2019. However, his 73.4 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2020 lends its hand to plenty of promise.

Is Shelton the Answer?

Shelton is the most prototypical nose tackle of the group, checking in at a stout 6-foot-2-inches and 345-pounds. The former No. 12 overall selection in the 2015 draft hasn’t passed as much of a pass-rush threat thus far in his career (5.5 career sacks). However, he is a space-eater in the run game. In 2020, Shelton logged 498 total snaps with the Detroit Lions, 261 of which occurred on run-defense snaps.

“It’s just gonna make my job that much easier,” linebacker Blake Martinez told the New York Post’s Steven Serby of the addition of Shelton. “I messed with the coaches saying that no wonder he was a first-rounder, ’cause he’s basically three guys in one, so basically with one pick you got three guys.’”

Johnson will more than likely hold on to the starter designation at the position, as he’s been around the team longer than Shelton and has more experience than Hill operating over the center. With that said, replacing Tomlinson will be more than a one-man job. In other words, we’ll likely see plenty of all three players come the regular season, especially in Patrick Graham’s multi-look defensive scheme.


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