Draft Spotlight: WR Stephen Hill

Stephen Hill was the fastest wideout at the NFL Scouting Combine this year, opening many eyes in the process. We go to the film and analyze the all-around game of the former Georgia Tech receiver.

Typically, when a prospect runs the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, people take notice. Such was the case for Stephen Hill, who ran a 4.36 at this year's combine, the best of any wide receiver in the 2012 class.

The former Georgia Tech wide receiver was considered a potential third rounder heading into the NFL's annual meat market in Indianapolis, yet his pure speed has some NFL scouts drooling. In the eyes of many, the 6-3, 215-pounder is now a potential first round pick.

Hill also led all wideouts with an 11-4 broad jump and ranked fourth with a 39.5-inch vertical jump. He showed great quickness in the three-cone drill (6.88 seconds) and 60-yard dash (11.43 seconds) – both Top 10 times amongst receivers.


WR Stephen Hill
Josh D. Weiss/US Presswire

Coming out after his junior season, Hill's numbers don't stand out. He caught just 28 passes his final collegiate season, yet racked up 820 yards on that measly platter of touches. His 29.3 yards-per-catch average was the highest in the NCAA last year.

Let's go to the tape to break down Hill's all-around game.

Pros

-Top-tier straight-line speed. Long strides give him an effortless look.
-A playmaker that tracks the deep pass well and does a great job of high-pointing jump balls. Aggressive with hands when ball is in the air.
-Excels on go routes, deep corners and posts.
-Doesn't look great after the catch but uses good stiff arm and fights for extra yards.
-Outstanding blocker. Sinks hips and pumps legs. Can drive smaller defenders. Arguably the best run blocker amongst receivers in the 2012 class.
-Will be a solid deep threat from Day 1 in the pros.
-Athletic enough to lay out for balls and make the one-handed grab.
-Compares favorably to Randy Moss due to elite size and speed.

Cons

-Route running needs a lot of work. Ran a simplified route tree at Georgia Tech.
-Rounds off his cuts and doesn't sink hips getting in and out of his breaks.
-Concentration issues cause inconsistent hands.
-Doesn't read coverages well and struggles against zone sets.
-Will have trouble beating the jam of aggressive NFL cornerbacks.
-One-trick pony who will need a lot of work before he becomes an every down receiver.

Conclusion

NFL teams constantly search for receivers with the blend of size and speed that Hill possesses. Few corners will be able to run stride for stride with him at the next level. He is extremely raw and unpolished, and he may never develop into an all-around wideout. Yet his ability to flat-out fly will make him a quality deep threat the moment he steps on the field.

There are few wideouts in this year's class with as much potential as Hill. He's far from a sure bet but he's a player on whom many teams would love to roll the dice.

The Chicago Bears have a deep threat in Johnny Knox. Yet Knox is recovering from back surgery sustained at the end of last season. No one knows when, or if, he'll play again.

Hill could fill the void that Knox's potential absence would leave on Chicago's roster. And if he can develop under the tutelage of receivers coach Darryle Drake, he could become one heck of a weapon down the line. Yet there will be plenty of growing pains along the way.

Jay Cutler may like Hill's potential but he's likely to get frustrated with a receiver that has very little polish or experience. In essence, the Bears would be drafting Hill in the hopes he could contribute two to three years down the line.

Chicago needs help at the receiver position now. If they can address that problem in free agency, and Hill falls to the club in the second round, then he'd be a solid pick. Despite his freakish athleticism, Hill is too raw to be taken at 19th overall. That's too much of a reach for the Bears in the first round.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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