EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 15: B.J. Hill #95 of the New York Giants stands in the tunnel prior to their game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

After a subpar 2019 season, B.J. Hill will need to return to his 2018 form when he set the New York Giants’ franchise rookie sack record.

Jason Leach

There is no shortage of reasons why the New York Giants finished 4-12 last season. Some of it was due to injuries, poor coaching decisions, and some of their young players not progressing as expected. One player who falls into the category of not progressing as the Giants brass would have hoped is defensive lineman B.J. Hill.

The Giants took Hill in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft (69th overall). He was one of the draft picks the Giants acquired when they traded Jason Pierre-Paul to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When training camp opened in the summer of 2018, Hill immediately impressed his teammates and coaches with his strength and athleticism. In particular, they were impressed with Hill’s quick and nimble feet, which are seldom seen from a guy that’s 6-foot-3 and 311 pounds.

As a rookie, he appeared in all 16 games and started 12 of them, and finished the season with 48 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. His sack total set the franchise rookie record (Lawrence Taylor unofficially had 9.5 sacks in 1981, but sacks didn’t become an official stat until 1982).

After his impressive rookie season, some felt the Hill could possibly be a Pro Bowl player in 2019 and that the Giants would have a stout and intimidating defensive line with him, Dalvin Tomlinson, and rookie Dexter Lawrence.

But for whatever reason, Hill did not progress from his rookie season, In fact, his play declined. He did not make the same impactful plays he made as a rookie, and seldom applied pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

When the Giants would often go to two interior linemen with Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter playing defensive ends, it was Tomlinson and Lawrence that were the two interior linemen in this scheme.

Hill’s decline in production was certainly one of the factors that made general manager Dave Gettleman make a trade with the New York Jets to acquire Leonard Williams.  The Giants traded away a 2020 third-round pick (68th overall) that the Jets used to draft safety Ashtyn Davis and 2021 fifth-round pick.

With Williams on the team, Hill saw less playing time and finished the season with 36 tackles, two tackles of a loss, and one sack, while starting just five of the 16 games he played in.

After the season Hill had, expect him to be highly motivated to regain his 2018 form and show new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham that he deserves more playing time. Graham’s defensive scheme should be able to bring out the best in Hill.

With both Tomlinson and Williams not under contract beyond the 2020 season, the Giants are hoping Hill can once again become a disruptive force on the defensive line. Hill is under contract through the 2021 season, but if his play doesn’t improve, you have to wonder how long he’ll be in the Giants’ plans.

The 2020 season is pivotal for the 25-year-old, as he faces a ton of pressure to produce. He and the Giants are hoping that 2019 was a minor setback and that 2020 will be a huge comeback.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.