The NFL combine is a wondrous place. Vince Young’s terrible wonderlic score made him an object of ridicule, while Chris Johnson’s ridiculous 40-yard dash time foreshadowed things to come.
In best case scenarios, players who were afterthoughts before the combine make themselves a lot of money thanks to their performance. Stephen Hill will be one of those guys. Already known as a burner with above average blocking skills, Hill showed scouts he was capable of running routes that Georgia Tech’s option offense didn’t call for. His performance at the combine and Georgia Tech’s pro day has placed Hill amongst Kendall Wright, Michael Floyd and Reuben Randle in the second tier of Wide Receivers behind Justin Blackmon.
Weight: 215 pounds
Born: April 25, 1991
40-yard dash: 4.36
Vertical jump: 39.5 inch
Broad jump: 133 inch
Bench Press: 14 reps at 225 pounds
Three cone drill: 6.88
20-yard shuttle: 4.48
60-yard TD shuttle: 11.43
Arm length: 33 3/8 inches
Hands: 9 3/8 inches
2011: 13 GP 28 REC 820 Yards, 29.3 YPC 5 Touchdowns
2010: 12 GP 15 REC 291 Yards 19.4 YPC 3 Touchdowns
2009: 13 GP 6 REC 137 Yards 22.8 YPC 1 Touchdowns
What the experts say
Has a unique skill set, can pluck off his frame, track the football and is the next big time talent from the Georgia Tech program. Is going to need some time to develop, but can come in and track football vertically early on. Has a lot of upside to his game and skill set says he’s an NFL starter.
Hill was flawless during pass-catching drills, running clean routes and doing an exceptional job catching the ball. The buzz continues to build around Hill, as several NFL decision-makers, as well as directors of college scouting for teams around the league, openly stated this morning that he ranks as a first-round choice and should be off the board by pick 25.
After Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, Hill is the latest in a line of Yellow Jackets receivers who are big, fast playmakers who were underutilized at Georgia Tech. He is a raw receiver with big upside and a high ceiling. Hill has big size but also is very fast. At the pro level, he will need some development, but could turn into a steal.
“Stephen Hill killed it. I had a bunch of scouts tell me before the combine this kid might blow the roof off of it and he did. The tough thing with Stephen Hill is coming out of that option offense, he’s hard to evaluate … From a football perspective, every team in the league has a lot of homework to do. He’s a hard guy to figure out, just like Demaryius Thomas was because you don’t see real routes; all you see are verticals, crosses and play-action and jump balls. You have to do your homework on this kid and he’s kind of pushed himself right up in the forefront of this wide receivers class.”
As a wide receiver, Hill was mostly asked to run straight or slant deep go routes. None of his QBs at Georgia Tech were strong armed and, hence, such passes were floated to Hill, many times with a lot of defenders around. Hill was not asked to run a lot of choppy routes, and does not have elite turning ability. Hill demonstrated mostly exceptional ball skills, but will also drop an easy pass now and then.
This is a bit high for a raw prospect like Hill, but with the Patriots and so many other teams looking for size and the ability to stretch the field it won’t surprise me to see him off the board this early. Hill (6-4, 215) showed flashes of his big-play ability in 2011 (28 catches, 820 yards), and he had one of the best combine workouts I’ve ever seen from a wide receiver.
Hill set Indy ablaze, going sub-4.4 in the 40 while measuring 6-foot-4. San Francisco, meet the deep threat you’ve been looking for. It’s no secret the 49ers need more out of their wide receivers, and Hill brings a new aspect to the table, with elite size and track speed to stretch defenses both for himself, and to open up things underneath. He’ll need an adjustment period as he gets used to a more conventional offense, but some team is going to fall in love with the measurables.
It’s felt at this point that Hill is a tad better route-runner than was Thomas coming out of college, but that the latter might have been a little more physical.But scouts feel that Hill has similar characteristics to Thomas, who torched the Pittsburgh secondary in Denver’s playoff victory two months ago, and want to do a lot more research.”The size and speed, obviously, are there,” agreed one NFC scout. “But, outside of ordering up the tape, you don’t want to fall all over yourself yet.”
Hill’s lack of college production can be explained by Paul Johnson’s system and Georgia Tech’s lack of a traditional pocket passer. While Hill considers Calvin “Megatron” Johnson his idol, comparisons to another former Yellow Jacket, Demaryius Thomas, seem more accurate.
Like Wright, teams in the bottom third of the first round – including Denver, Houston and New York – will be the likely landing spot for Hill.