MOBILE, Ala. — The task Dalvin Tomlinson faces in the months leading up to the NFL draft at the end of April is an indicator of the way the game has changed.

Tomlinson, the powerful defensive tackle from Alabama, is a devastating run defender, capable of taking on multiple blocks and plugging gaps, allowing the linebackers behind him to run free. 

Proving himself as a pass rusher might be the key to where Tomlinson is picked, and it was key to his week at the Senior Bowl at the end of January. 

"Thought he won a lot of people over, not only with his story off-the-field of perseverance — two torn ACLS in his career, in high school and college — but then his play on the field was good as well," Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage said in a video recently. "Won seven and lost two in the one-on-one pass rush, and he was not known as a pass rusher."

Playing on a defense that included interior rusher Jonathan Allen and twin edge rushers in Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson, Tomlinson made three sacks in his final season and five in his college career overall. 

But the 2016 draft was a good example of how much the pass rush dictates an interior player's position. Widely touted as one of the deepest classes of tackles available in years, the 2016 group failed to produce an eye-popping number of first-rounders.

An ability to get to the quarterback mattered most. New Orleans took Sheldon Rankins, the best pass rusher in the group, first at No. 12, and then Green Bay, Arizona and Carolina grabbed Kenny Clark, Robert Nkemdiche and Vernon Butler at the end of the round. Out of those four, only Clark was known as a run-stopper first, and run-stuffers like Baylor's Andrew Billings and Jarran Reed, Tomlinson's former teammate, went far below their projected spots. 

NFL teams see the 6-foot-3, 312-pound Tomlinson as a versatile option, a player who can both handle the nose tackle spot and play a little 3-technique, the penetrating position where the best interior rusher usually resides.

Tomlinson's primary asset is his unbelievable power, though, and he admitted teams see him as a run stopper first. 

"In this league, yes, but I feel like they've seen me do a lot better in pass rush, and they're going to incorporate me into the pass rushing defenses from the inside," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson also possesses an innate understanding of leverage and hand placement because of another sport he played in high school, a sport that also heavily impacted the careers of Saints linemen Hau'oli Kikaha and Tyeler Davison.

Tomlinson was a devastating wrestler at Henry County High School in Georgia, so good that he had offers from several Big Ten schools to be a heavyweight wrestler, although football was always his primary sport. 

"Wrestling was a big part of me in high school, growing up and I was a three-time state champion," Tomlinson said. "I feel like it helped out a lot for leverage, hand placement and just learning how to control somebody else's body with your hands, just pretty much dominating another person."

Tomlinson has learned the lessons well. 

"It's always about position, and in wrestling, you have to know the different techniques to gain that position, and you have to be explosive with it," Tomlinson said. "It's the same in football; you have to be explosive and be quick off the ball, make sure your hands and things are in right place."

Skills that will help at the next level, no matter what role he's asked to play. 

Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.