Earlier this week it was reported by NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, that the Los Angeles Chargers held a private workout with Alabama DL Jonathan Allen. Allen, one of the biggest names in this year’s draft, could be an option for the Chargers if he slips down to the 7th overall pick. However, if the Chargers pass and instead invest a later draft choice to build along the defensive line, one of Allen’s Crimson Tide teammates could be available.
Alabama defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who met with the Chargers during the Senior Bowl, is a player that could be flying a little under the radar. The reason? Tomlinson was surrounded on the defensive line by players that have garnered a little more notoriety. The aforementioned Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Rueben Foster were just a few of the players along with Tomlinson that helped generate one of the best defenses in NCAA football in 2016.
In his first and only year as a starter, Tomlinson compiled 62 tackles, 5.5 TFL, four PBU, 3 sacks and one forced fumble through 15 games last season. The previous two years Tomlinson had to wait his turn for a starting role while working in a rotation behind former Roll Tide alums, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarron Reed. In Alabama’s 3-4 defensive scheme, Tomlinson lined up as a two-gap penetrating end with enough versatility to become effective as a one-technique or 3-technique defender at the next level.
At 6’3, 312lbs Tomlinson has drawn physical comparisons to Raiders defensive tackle Dan Williams. Carrying a large frame with a 16.38-inch shoulder width, Tomlinson is deceptively quick footed and extremely agile with good change of direction. Displaying a solid combination of technique and power Tomlinson utilizes his length and leverage to force blockers off balance. Capable of eating double-teams and disrupting the gaps, Tomlinson consistently finds ways to get himself around the ball. Despite playing above the 300-pound mark Tomlinson shows great pursuit of plays that gain positive yards as shown in the clip below:
Wanna like Dalvin Tomlinson? Here's a play for that. pic.twitter.com/BIF2K1oq6I— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) February 28, 2017
Tomlinson’s physical and athletic tools have evolved through more than just football. During his time at Henry county High School, Tomlinson played soccer and earned praise as a three-time state wrestling champion. On top of his leverage and power, Tomlinson shows great agility by shedding blocks and exploding up to bat down passes.
Dalvin Tomlinson doing what he does best. Uses length and power to force OL back into QB and gets hands up to knock down the pass. pic.twitter.com/KHNWsNQJbM— Shawn Spencer (@Spencer_NFL) March 21, 2017
While Tomlinson does not possess the best stats as a pass rusher, his top marks are earned from his work in run defense. Tomlinson displays great awareness with terrific read-react capability, getting off his blocks and utilizing his lateral quickness to make a play.
Dalvin Tomlinson will be a really good pro for a really long time. https://t.co/gwID8XWmD6— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) January 11, 2017
As with any draft prospect, Tomlinson is not without question marks regarding how his game will develop at the NFL level. Was Tomlinson a one-year wonder for the Crimson Tide? Was his play a reflection of his skill, or the product of the teammates that surrounded him on defense. Can his pass rushing skills develop? Regardless of the questions, Tomlinson’s gameplay and natural skills warrant NFL Consideration. While the Chargers currently have tenured veterans along the defensive line, drafting a player like Tomlinson and giving him reps in the scheme rotation could pay dividends for the team as he could eventually develop into a starter in the NFL.