It wasn’t that long ago that BJ Hill was widely considered the New York Giants‘ most promising defensive lineman. Fresh off a 2018 rookie campaign in which he ranked second on the team with 5.5 sacks, the former N.C. State-standout appeared destined to be a mainstay along Big Blue’s front-seven for years to come.
However, fast-forward just two seasons with an influx of new faces on the Giants’ defense, and the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz has placed Hill “squarely on the hot seat.”
Was Hill’s Rookie Production a Fluke?
How quickly things can change. Following a productive rookie season, Schwartz noted it was “vogue to suggest he [Hill] was a steal of a draft pick.” However, now Schwartz wonders if Hill could be “just passing through” the organization.
The encouraging signs from Hill as a rookie in 2018 made it vogue to suggest he was a steal of a draft pick, arriving in the third round out of North Carolina State. The dreary signs from Hill following last season put him squarely on the hot seat. Is he a significant part of the defensive line rotation or just passing through?
Hard to tell. He started 12 games as a rookie and had 5.5 sacks, more than the Giants expected out of him and giving real hope that he would develop into a consistent pass-rusher. Hill is an interior lineman and that push from the middle of the line was outstanding.
Hill’s sack production during his rookie campaign likely skewed his actual ceiling a bit amongst Giants faithful. While he’s always been known to add some push up the middle, he was never previously considered a true “sack artist” as an interior pass-rusher.
Hill accumulated a grand total of just eight sacks over his four-year career at N.C. State, never once exceeding 3.5 sacks during a single season. That was while working alongside future Broncos stud edge-rusher Bradley Chubb and Chargers’ Justin Jones, which would seemingly help pad one’s stats, as opponents shifted their protection away from Hill.
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Hill Flashed in 2019 Despite Falling Out of Favor With Staff
While Hill may not be the second coming of Aaron Donald, he’s still as solid as they come along the defensive line.
As Schwartz noted, Hill’s “effectiveness against the run actually improved” a season ago. Unfortunately for him, “the same coaching staff enamored with Hill soured on him in 2019,” leading to a massive decrease in playing time.
However, most of that was out of Hill’s hands. It wasn’t his fault that a 350-pound dancing bear known as Dexter Lawrence fell into the Giants’ lap on draft day a year ago. Nor was it Hill’s fault that general manager Dave Gettleman felt overly-compelled to trade for Leonard Williams at last year’s trade deadline, despite the team already boasting one of the better d-line groups in all of football.
Hill Gives NY Flexibility in Williams, Tomlinson Contract Decisions
The chances of Hill working his way back into New York’s starting lineup this season are slim to none. With that said, moving forward may be a completely different story.
With Williams and the Giants still unable to come to a long-term contract agreement, and the team likely growing less and less thrilled about their return on investment each day, we could very well be looking at his final season in New York. The same could potentially be said about fellow d-lineman, Dalvin Tomlinson, yet for the polar opposite reason. The ex-Alabama standout has quietly become one of the most consistent front-four forces in the NFL, and will likely seek to be compensated as such when his contract expires at the end of the season.
The Giants will have the cap space to re-up both Williams and Tomlinson if they so choose. However, with Saquon Barkley’s extension looming, and the budding salaries of quarterbacks on the rise, New York may choose to cut expenses where they see fit. In the case of their defensive line, rolling with the cheaper Hill while receiving similar, if not better, on-field production sounds like quite the savvy business move.