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Giants 2021 roster profile: Can DL B.J. Hill be more than a fourth wheel?

Cars need four wheels, but they are spare parts on three-man defensive lines

NFL: SEP 20 Giants at Bears
B.J. Hill
Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How big a role will defensive lineman B.J. Hill play for the New York Giants in 2021? Let’s take a look as we continue profiling the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp this summer.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 311
Age: 26
Position: Defensive line
Experience: 3
Contract: Final year of four-year, $4.047 million rookie contract | 2021 cap hit: $2.44 million

Career to date

After being selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Hill had a surprisingly impactful rookie season with 5.5 sacks, 48 tackles and eight quarterback hits. Hill had only eight tacks total in 48 games over four seasons at North Carolina State, and his rookie season always came with the caveat that the pass rush numbers might have been a mirage. After all, three of his 5.5 sacks and three of the eight quarterback hits he had came in one game vs. the Chicago Bears.

That has borne out. Hill has combined for only 2.0 sacks over the past two seasons, one each in 2019 and 2020. His playing time has also gone backwards — 642 snaps (59 percent) in 2018, 487 snaps (44 percent0 in 2019 and just 376 snaps (35 percent) in 2020.

The arrival of Leonard Williams in the middle of the 2019 season has led to a direct reduction in Hill’s playing time.

2021 outlook

Will anything be different for Hill in 2020? In other words, will he be more than a fourth wheel in a three-man defensive line?

Probably not. Provided Williams and Dexter Lawrence remain healthy.

Williams and Lawrence will get the bulk of the defensive end snaps when the Giants are in a three-man line. Hill was a nose tackle at N.C. State, but has not been used that way in the NFL. It seems unlikely he would take snaps at the nose away from Danny Shelton or Austin Johnson. In four-man pass rushing lines, Hill seems likely to be supplanted by one of the plethora of edge rushers the Giants have who can also line up as hand in the ground defensive ends.

Hill has always been a decent player. his Pro Football Focus grades (69.1 in 2018, 75.9 in 2019 and 73.4 last season) are fine. He just isn’t as dynamic or versatile as Williams and Lawrence, and will always take a backseat to them. He isn’t a good enough pass rusher to keep a true edge defender off the field in sub-packages.

Hill will do a good enough job when he is on the field. He just isn’t likely to be what some thought he might turn into after his rookie season.