B.J. Hill wasn’t about to tell Bradley Chubb he was coming for him just yet.
“Nah, he’s got 10 [sacks],” Hill said with a laugh Thursday, talking about his old college teammate and the NFL’s rookie sacks leader.
If Hill can replicate what he did last Sunday this week against the Redskins, then there may be a conversation. For now, the Giants defensive tackle had to settle for a text from Chubb congratulating him for his three-sack day against the Bears.
Hill now has five sacks on the season, which leads the Giants. He has already tied the Giants’ single-season rookie record and is now vying to become the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team in sacks.
“I’m just here to help the team win any way possible,” Hill insisted.
It’s that levelheaded mentality which defensive coordinator James Bettcher believes has Hill playing well so late in the season. With no regard for the supposed rookie wall, the Giants’ third-round draft pick is using the home stretch to play some of his best football.
“The thing about him is when he came in — and it’s the thing that stood out the most — he’s ahead of his time in terms of his maturity level,” Bettcher said. “In the meeting room, on the practice field, the way he works, the conversation. You can rip his butt, you can coach him hard, you can lift him up, he can handle all that, beyond what many rookies I’ve been around have been able to.”
Hill said that was just the way he was raised and how North Carolina State prepared him for the next level.
In his last year with the Wolfpack, he played on a defensive line that now has four players in the NFL. Chubb got most of the hype — and is backing it up with his disruptive rookie season with the Broncos — but Hill is busy making a name for himself as a solid piece of the Giants’ young defensive core.
“It really didn’t bug me at all [that he was overlooked in college] because I knew we were all going to get a chance at the next level,” said Hill, who his third among all rookies in sacks. “That’s all you really need.”
The 6-foot-3, 303-pound lineman said he didn’t have any expectations of what his role would be this year once he was drafted, but that he just wanted to help the team win. He showed enough in training camp, though, that he earned a shot to play right away, an opportunity that has only grown since the Giants traded away Damon “Snacks” Harrison midseason.
“I’m talking about a guy who was just all about his business from Day 1,” veteran safety Michael Thomas said. “Since training camp, I heard other D-linemen who were vets and stuff, they came in and they were like, ‘He got it. He got everything it takes.’”
Head coach Pat Shurmur noted Hill was one of a handful of Giants rookies that was forced into action and has been learning on the fly.
“He was disruptive the other day,” Shurmur said. “I think he’s steadily improved each week.”
Hill came out of college known for his ability to help a run defense, but also wanted to prove he could pass rush. He flashed that potential with a breakout game against the Bears, and now, another opportunity awaits against the Redskins — who have had three starting offensive linemen placed on injured reserve during the season.
“I believe the defense is coming along really well the last couple games,” Hill said. “It’s not just me getting the sacks but it’s all of us.
“We do got some young guys coming up. I believe we got something special that’s coming.”