Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill has a lot of potential due to his incredible raw athletic ability, but the New York Jets first-round pick clearly needs some more time and development to help harness that potential. That comes as no surprise, since the Georgia Tech product was considered an extremely raw prospect coming out of college after playing in the opposite of a pro-style offense for the Yellow Jackets.
After catching five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills, things have gone downhill for Hill. He has caught just nine passes for 107 yards in the seven games since then for an average of just under 25 yards per game in total. He has elite speed and can stretch the field, but the Jets need him to break out of the rookie wall soon and step up. The skill positions have been very weak this year, and it’s another reason why we should feel bad for Mark Sanchez whilst his struggles get over-exaggerated.
Rex Ryan still believes that Stephen Hill can turn it around despite having no catches in the past two games. In fact, he was putrid against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday with an awful drop, a pass interference call, and he could not gain separation at all. Ryan pointed to the fact that Hill missed practice with an illness.
In a surprisingly sizeable vote of confidence Ryan told the New York Daily News, “Has he lost some confidence? I’m not sure. One thing I know for sure, we’re going to keep throwing it to him. He can get separation from people. The fun part and the easy part of the job is catching the football.”
He has the speed, but gaining separation isn’t all about speed at the NFL level. It takes good route-running too, and Hill is one of the worst route-runners in the NFL. That’s largely due to inexperience, and Ryan is right for not giving up on Hill. He’s a rookie, and it’s time to help him learn and improve as the season wears on. There’s no sense in giving up on him.
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