Georgia Tech wide receiver has put himself on the map recently with an impressive combine performance. Lets quickly break him down.
Measurables: Official Combine Numbers
Weight: 215 lbs
40 Time: 4.36s
Bench Press: 14 reps
3 Cone Drill: 6.88s
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.48s
Hill measured a positional best of 4.36 seconds in the 40 yard dash, which is the main reason for his recent surge in draft stock. He is also very tall and lanky at 6'4" and 215 pounds. His agility and strength drills were slightly above average. If Hill wants to further increase his draft stock, he is going to need to put on 5-15 more pounds of muscle before his pro day but still show the same elite speed.
Example One: 0:07 Seconds
To be honest I am severely disappointed with Hill's film in this game. His only hands-catch that i saw, was the first at 0:07 seconds. The route was poorly ran. Hill explodes forward with a good release but loses speed as he rounds his route. Outs are meant to be run at virtual 90 degree angles but Hill makes his break at the 33 yard line but rounds his route to end him up at the 40 yard line. This shows extremely poor route running. Also coming out of the break, Hill shuffles into his route once the ball is in the air. He makes a decent hand-catch but also fails to look the ball in as he tucks the ball. This was sloppy, no way around it. His release was excellent but he makes a pathetic cut that seems to negate all of his initial burst. He also shuffles into break where should have been accelerating away from the defense.
Example Two: 0:15
Can't be critical of this play. Route was run well around the linebacker. He then recognizes the hole in the zone coverage and sits. Spectacular catch.
Example Three: 1:02
Again Hill shows an excellent release and he would have beaten the corner more easily if the ball was thrown later and a little farther. Hill shows his strength, deep routes. I like how he is physical and fights for the ball, he doesn't give up on the poor, under thrown ball. However the catch, as spectacular as it was, was flawed. NFL corners will find a way to bat the ball away if he attempted to make a body catch like that. Hill needs to work on using his hands when fighting for those balls.
Example Four: 1:30
Another vertical, deep route. Seeing a pattern? Hill has another excellent release. Seeing a pattern? Does a nice job of sitting in between the safety and linebackers. However his catch shows me that he really needs to work on catching with his hands. Unlike the play before where he might not have had the time to extend his arms and catch with his hands, this play he has ample time to extend his arms and look the ball in. However he makes a very ugly body catch. Hill needs to show me that he can catch a ball that has lead on it by extending his arms and using his hands.
Example Five: 2:30
Okay at this point I thought that I was seeing too much body catches and a real lack of route running. However I ignored both because example one was the only non-vertical route he ran in this game, other than a screen ( which he ran very well). However this is why Hill really needs to work on his catch and hands. He drops a wide open catch that most JV receivers would make. Refer to 2:53 to see the slow motion play back. Examine the catch. Hill attempts to catch the ball with his hands, despite it looking like an attempted body catch. He tries to trap it close to his body. His technique was flawed in two ways. One, he should have used his diamond (a technique that really all receivers should know) and caught the ball away from his body. Two, he never looked the ball in. This is one of the most under appreciated skills a receiver can have. If you examine the catch in slow motion, you can see that at the point of contact between his hands and the ball, Hill is still looking backwards and doesn't look the ball into his hands. Also he might have faked an injury to shake off that embarrassing drop but we won't read much into that.
Hill has great measurables. Tall, Lanky, Fast. However he lacks some fundamental skills as a receiver. Football players aren't just athletes, they require skills and techniques that allow them to play the game of football as a receiver. In this game tape, I just don't see it. Poor route running, poor catching technique. I see athlete, fast and catches long balls but I don't see receiver on plays like example one and four. I see dropped balls and to be honest, flag football routes. As a consolation though, Hill is a pretty good blocker, the system and his size has allowed him to become an adequate blocker, something valued by our system. I would like to break down more film on Hill but from what I see, Hill's bad habit (body catches) actually came to get him at the end and as a player he really needs to work on that. Hill can still show his progress at his pro day. I want to see him gain at least 5 lbs of muscle but still maintain his elite speed. That will show me that he is dedicated to improving his size but remains in shape. Also I want to see him look more like a receiver. I want him to catch with his hands and run routes in 90 and 45 degree angles. Stephen Hill has a lot more to prove before he is worth the 26th overall pick in my opinion.
Overall Grade: 1-2 Round
1. Justin Blackmon
2. Michael Floyd
3. Alshon Jeffery
4a. Mohamed Sanu
4b. Stephen Hill
5. Reuben Randle
6. Kendall Wright