Amid a dreadful season for the Las Vegas Raiders defense, Johnathan Hankins was a force against the run.
Hankins has been a steady fixture for the Silver and Black since his arrival back in 2018. Since then, the strength of the defensive tackle has been in the run defense department. His dominance on that front in 2020 earned recognition back in November. At that time, Pro Football Focus recognized him as the NFL’s highest-graded interior lineman in run defense.
From 2018 through this past season, ’90’ has consistently remained one of the best run-stoppers. His PFF run-defense grade in that span has been among the best within the Raiders at 68.9, 70.2, and 68.8, respectively.
As far as 2020 goes, Hankins started all 16 regular-season games for Las Vegas just as he did in 2019. If he were to return in 2021, we’d assume he would continue to be healthy and reliable for Gus Bradley’s defense.
What do the numbers say for the Raiders’ defensive tackle?
Statistically speaking, Hankins‘ numbers weren’t eye-popping in 2020. His final stat line was made up of 27 solo tackles, one sack, and one tackle for a loss. His best individual performance came towards the end of the season in Week 16. In that matchup versus the Miami Dolphins, Hankins accumulated four solo tackles, as well as his lone sack and tackle for a loss of 2020.
To the blind eye, these numbers don’t warrant a new contract, but what Hankins does goes beyond basic stats.
DT Johnathan Hankins, lined up in A gap to back-side of this run. Watch him scrape down the line like a LB, then fill the hole, and deliver a blow to the RB. Underrated athlete, saw him drop into coverage earlier in game.#Raiders #RaiderNation
— Ramble Digital Media™ (@RambleDMedia) January 3, 2021
In plays like the ones above and below, Hankins demonstrates his impact in defending the run. Standing at six-foot-three and weighing 340 pounds, the defensive tackle’s an athletic force that can move around like an EDGE. His pursuit of the running back in the play above showcases his underrated speed, especially for someone his size.
Due to the Raiders’ need to address the lack of pressure in their pass-rush, Hankins might not be seen as a priority this offseason. However, he wasn’t part of the problem, as he did his job in 2020. The team should do itself a favor and re-sign Hankins and pair him with a rookie defensive tackle in 2021. The Raiders will need more sacks next season but they can’t afford to overlook opposing running games either, it will be interesting to see what direction they go.
DT Johnathan Hankins takes on the double team, sheds, and makes stop for minimal gain. Priority re-sign in off-season as he will be a free agent. Key piece to run defense.
— Ramble Digital Media™ (@RambleDMedia) December 5, 2020
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*Top Photo: Erik Risberg/Associated Press