NFL training camp starts at the end of the month, which means players around the league are getting their last bits of offseason work in before the real work of trying to make the roster begins.
For certain players, this season is what some may call “Make or Break,” meaning they need to put together a productive year or they could be looking for employment elsewhere at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Why Make or Break?
First, it’s a contract year for the former third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. But it’s also an amazing opportunity that he sees in first of him with Dalvin Tomlinson now off the depth chart in the trenches, as he signed with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency.
Hill has only collected 17 starts over his career and hasn’t seen the type of production like his rookie season pop on the stat sheet (5.5 sacks, 48 tackles, six tackles for loss). This is the chance for Hill to get back to that player and potentially earn himself a new deal to remain in New York.
Danny Shelton did come in as a veteran addition that could play nose tackle and have Dexter Lawrence shift to Tomlinson’s old spot on the right side. But Hill could make an impact at training camp to force his way into the starting lineup. From there, it’s up to him to make it count.
What will break it?
It’s an uphill climb for Hill after the new Giants regime with Joe Judge and Patrick Graham not using him much last season. He had gone from 12 starts, to five, to none and that’s not a progression any young player in the NFL wants to see.
So, if Hill lacks consistent snaps, it’s hard to see team brass wanting to give him a new contract if they could just draft someone to use as a depth piece or work with the current players on the roster.
Hill certainly has the potential to make more plays for Big Blue. But, as is the case with every player on the Giants, playing time is earned and Hill will have to prove he deserves it.
Without playing time, he knows he will be looking elsewhere next season for a new deal with a new team.
What will make it?
It won’t be easy for Hill to crack into the starting lineup, but if he does, the biggest skill he could have to get an extension would be the ability to get into the backfield.
Having 5.5 sacks in his rookie season shows that the NC State product knows how to get the quarterback on the ground. That’s an area the Giants’ defense has lacked for some time. With Leonard Williams collecting double-digit sacks during the 2020 season, which led to his own lucrative extension, Hill could have the same mindset of getting into the backfield and creating disruption on the other side. Two is better than one.
If Hill can prove that skill is in his arsenal still, then the Giants could theoretically leave Lawrence at nose tackle and use Hill on his left side. Shelton, then, can come in during early-down situations to utilize his run stopping ability.
But, even if it’s as a third-down guy trying to get to the quarterback, Hill’s best chance to stay with the Giants is to collect sacks and tackles for loss. Going through the motions when he gets his reps won’t do the trick, and again, he knows that.
This will be his best way of standing out.