Giant Glut of Defensive Linemen: The Tackles

Richard ReschCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Defensive tackle Jay Alford #93 of the New York Giants sacks quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots on 2nd and 10 for a 10-yard loss in the final minute during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Last week, I discussed why the Giants' defensive line could be the best in the NFL.  A combination of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka gives the Giants a tantalizing trio of sack masters.

But it's not just the defensive ends that make this defensive line so formidable.  The Giants' defensive tackles are quite talented in their own right, and the depth at tackle is even greater than it is at defensive end.

When Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard were signed during the offseason to plug up the middle of the line, it seemed like a bit of a head-scratcher.  When it was revealed that both starting defensive tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield had undergone knee surgery, these moves made much more sense.

Canty's best asset is his size.  At 6'7", 305 LB, he is a force in both the passing game and the running game.  His long arms make it difficult for quarterbacks to complete short passes over the middle, something the Giants struggled with last season.  His presence should help to mask some of the deficiencies in the Giants' linebacking corps.

Bernard is solid enough to start on many teams.  He should provide good depth, but he may see a good deal of action if Cofield and Robbins are slow to recover from offseason knee surgeries.

The good news is that both Robbins and Cofield have been able to practice in some capacity.  Although they have had to take it slow thus far, both players seem to be on the road to recovery.

Robbins is one of the more underrated defensive players in the league.  If healthy, he is a leader of the defense and a key cog in the middle of the line.  Cofield is also an important piece, as he continues to develop into one of the better tackles in the league.

Jay Alford is remembered for his bone-crushing sack of Tom Brady to put Super Bowl XLII out of reach.  All reports from preseason practices thus far are that Alford is the most improved member of the defensive line.  Alford spent the offseason working with Osi Umenyiora, and it seems to have transformed him into a better, more confident player.

If Alford can continue to develop into a starting caliber defensive tackle, and if everyone can stay healthy, the defensive line will morph from "scary" to "unfair."