The 2020 Giants had a glutton of talent on their defensive line. The trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams, and Dexter Lawrence is enough to spark fear into opposing offensive lines, but that doesn’t even include a player as talented as B.J. Hill. Now that Tomlinson has signed with the Vikings, Hill should receive even more snaps.
Hill was somewhat buried on the depth chart. He received 375 snaps, a solid chunk, but only about 35% of the total defensive snaps. For context, Williams played 803 snaps, Tomlinson 658, and Lawrence 655. Hill may not be as well-rounded as the other three 2020 Giants’ defensive linemen, but he’s better than most of the third interior defensive linemen, on a team, in the league.
According to Pro Football Focus, he’s coming off a season where he amassed 22 pressures, a sack, 13 STOPs, and 21 total tackles. His sack totals don’t exactly represent what he’s capable of when rushing the passer from the interior.
In 2018, his rookie season, Hill had six sacks, but he hasn’t been used as frequently since that season, primarily because of the other talent on the roster. Let’s dive into some of Hill's gems in this edition of "the Good, the Great, and the Ugly."
(B.J. Hill is No. 95)
The Good: Always Hustling
Hill is constantly making plays down the field in pursuit because he is always putting himself into position to track the ball carrier down despite how unlikely it is that he’ll make the tackle. (I love this competitive toughness from Hill.)
We can see how he gets held up by the double team at the line of scrimmage, but he follows the football and takes a great angle up the field to possibly cut off Nick Chubb (24). The running back is boxed inside by David Mayo (55), and he uses his nimble footwork to elude defenders into Hill's waiting grasp.
Cleveland ran a lot of stretch zone against the Giants, so they ran this play-action boot to fool the defense--both Williams and Hill read the play, but Jarvis Landry (80) had ample space in the flat coming from the opposite direction.
Carter Coughlin (49) attempts to get to the quarterback, who dumps it to Landry. I love how Hill rumbles well down the field to locate Landry and make the tackle well away from his starting location.
It’s much more will than hustle on this play above, but Hill does a great job getting into the guard's chest while laterally flowing to constrict the B-Gap. Blake Martinez (No. 54) then fills the hole, and the running back attempts to come back to the now wide A-Gap, but Hill has his hips still positioned in that area--he did not over pursue, despite the distance traveled. Once he sees the cutback, he assists the guard into the B-Gap and swims over the top to fill the A-Gap and make the tackle.
He’s not on the play side of this one as the 49ers run counter away from Hill, but he does well to shed and locate as a backside pursuit defender that has to get off the guard’s pinning attempt.
Hill shows good adaptation as he uses Austin Johnson’s (98) block as a pick to concede ground a bit to flow over the top of his fellow defensive linemen. This puts him in a much better position to make the tackle down the line of scrimmage.
Here’s another run away from him out, a play of the shotgun. Hill does such a good job quickly engaging and shedding with his hands to collapse the moving B-Gap from a 4-technique alignment.
This was important because Johnson lost badly as the nose on this play. The line shifts away from Hill, but he’s still able to defeat his block and make a play down the line of scrimmage.
The Great: Hand Usage
As we already saw in a few clips above, there is great violence and quickness in Hill’s hands. Hill does a good job adapting and using several moves to create separation from offensive linemen.
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Hill is in the 2i-technique position against the Cardinals; he absorbs the contact of the DEUCE chip and climb block while engaging himself primarily with the guard before the chip happens.
Hill sinks his hips, shoots his hands into the chest of the guard, plays with great leverage and extension, gets his eyes in the backfield, and then pulls the guard downward after the double team to bring his inside arm through the block in a ripping motion to separate and fill the B-Gap. There are a lot of plays like this in his film.
Martinez's showing blitz forces the guard to engage Hill one versus one instead of a double team attempt, and Hill takes full advantage of the situation. He gains the chest and plays cat and mouse with the running back, effectively playing two gaps.
The running back goes to the B-gap, and Hill shows leverage in that direction which forces him to bounce to his opposite side, but Hill is in so much control that he shuts the A-gap down as well. Hill uses his strong hands to throw the blocker to his side as he makes a tackle at the line of scrimmage--complete control by Hill on this play.
The violence and heaviness in Hill’s hands help him win at the point of attack, even against very good competition like the Buccaneers interior offensive line. Hill gets inside and almost automatically stands Alex Cappa (65) up, as he wins with low leverage.
Hill gets his inside hand on the midline of Cappa while using his outside arm to shift Cappa’s momentum off his own body. Hill absorbs the chip from the tackle and then gets horizontal through the block, and Cappa can’t handle the strong outside arm from Hill. This is a very impressive display of strength, will, and hands from B.J. Hill.
The quickness in Hill’s ability to engage and separate isn’t only a testament to his hands but his overall explosiveness as well. Jason Kelce (No. 62) steps to the play side and attempts to seal Hill away from the play, but Hill has the quickness to go around Kelce from the non-play side.
I love how Hill also follows through the evasion with a hard chop with his own inside hand that forces Kelce to move forward. This gets Kelce flying into Kyler Fackrell’s (51) side and completely away from Hill.
I feel like Seattle's guard was contemplating a lot of things after Hill put this pass-rushing move on him. Hill hits him with a quick engagement, push, pull violently to the ground while running through traffic to pressure Russell Wilson (No. 3). Hill has these types of capabilities.
Hill engages with the bull-rush on this play, and he then presses the guard's inside shoulder to separate and create interior pressure. The guard’s shoulder pads get jolted backward, and he attempts to anchor and drive Hill out of the pocket, but Hill is able to get to the half-man and find his way off the block.
The Ugly: Playing Time
Hill only played in 35% of the snaps last season. I believe he is a player that can play (and play well) significantly more snaps than that, but the circumstances of the Giants’ 2020 roster led to him being more of a role player. However, jumping to a more prominent role in Graham’s defense may hinder his ability to generate these flash plays.
Hill has never played more than 650 snaps in a season, and the most he’s played was in his rookie year of 2018. I believe he is more than capable of still being efficient on more snaps, but it isn’t a given. Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham used Hill mostly in passing situations.
He only had two games over 30-snaps, and he had three games sub-20 snaps, with ten games sub-23 snaps.
Dalvin Tomlinson is no longer on the team, and I believe Danny Shelton will pick up a lot of those early-down snaps, but there still will be passing situations where Hill should earn more than just 375 snaps throughout a season. How efficient will he be with more snaps is the question.
More "Good, Great & Ugly" Breakdowns
WR Kelvin Benjamin | RB Devontae Booker | RB Corey Clement | OLB Lorenzo Carter | CB Isaac Yiadom | TE Kaden Smith | WR Kenny Golladay | TE Levine Toilolo | Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo | DT Danny Shelton | OL Zach Fulton | CB Adoree' Jackson | TE Evan Engram | S Jabrill Peppers | S Xavier McKinney | ILB Reggie Ragland | WR John Ross | TE Kyle Rudolph | OLB Oshane Ximines | LB Carter Coughlin | DL Dexter Lawrence II | WR Darius Slayton | LB Cam Brown | DL Leonard Williams | OL Will Hernandez | IDL Austin Johnson