ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 24: Stephen Hill #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets makes a catch for a 59-yard touchdown against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bobby Dodd Field on September 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
The next player in our search for future Jets is Junior Stephen Hill from the run first option offence of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets who is bypassing his senior year for a shot in the NFL. It came as a little bit of a surprise to most that Hill decided to enter the 2012 NFL draft as most considered him a potential first round selection if he had stayed for his final year. As it stands the NFL Draft Advisory board evaluated Hill as a 4th round prospect. Mel Kiper has specified that only a very strong workout will elevate him into the second round, so it seems as though his draft stock sits around where the Jets will be drafting in round 3.
Hill is in a lot of ways similar to former Yellow Jacket and current Denver Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas, who the Broncos drafted in 2010 with the 22nd overall selection in the draft. Thomas battled a lot of injuries his first season at Denver and ended up missing 6 games, he was a great prospect coming out of Tech and in 2011 he really started to show the promise with 551 yards and 4 TD's on 32 receptions. Coming from a run first option offence Hill like Thomas may be raw in technique but should by all accounts be a physical blocking wide receiver.
So join me after the jump for some positives, negatives and highlights.
I mentioned that it was important for any receiver in a run first option offence to be able to contribute on running plays and Hill does exactly that. He plays a very physical blocking style downfield and at the line. He has the size and build that NFL scouts will absolutely love and when you combine the 6-5 205lb frame with 4.45-4.50 speed it's not hard to see why in a run first offence he was able to collect 820 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 28 receptions for an average of 29.3 yards a catch. He has good vertical ability and uses his bulk and frame to protect the football and box out defenders for the catch. Long strides which result in deceptive speed, easily gets behind safeties and corners to make the big impact play. Catches well in traffic and is good at beating physical corners on the line. Excellent athletic ability and a willingness to learn. No character issues and a very grounded guy who speaks about improving on and off the field, as a player and a person. (In an interview he acknowledged that route running was his biggest weakness, self awareness is vital for improvement in my opinion)
It's not going to be a shock from a Georgia Tech wide receiver but Hills route running is something that will really need to be worked on. Hasn't had the opportunity to work through the route running tree and as a result he runs very sloppy routes. Does have a tendency to drop some catchable footballs and sometimes he lets the ball come into his body instead of extending and making the grab with his hands.
I am more than happy to go on record and state that I think Stephen Hill has as much talent and as much potential as Demaryius Thomas. Route running and concentration to catch footballs is two things that NFL coaches will be able to help with. When you can get an athlete and physical presence like Stephen and not give up a first or a second round selection, well it's an absolute bargain. I'm not saying he will be great from day one, he will need a year to work with the coaches on the route running and catching. But he will be able to come in and do a job sparingly in year one with potential to develop. If we did for example bring back Braylon Edwards for a year or two, I don't think there is a more suited wide receiver to help Hill in his development. A lot of the players we have looked at, I have specified I would like the Jets to take a look, nothing more. Here I'm saying I wan't them to draft this guy.