Sanjay Lal: 'Too early' to label Hill a bust

Entering his third season with the New York Jets, wide receiver Stephen Hill has failed to live up to the draft day hype when the team traded up to select him in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. Despite all of the 23-year-old's struggles, Jets' wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal isn't giving up on the young gun just yet.

Stephen Hill's NFL career got off to a fast start. It went the other way just as quickly.

The Georgia Tech product hauled in five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns in his first game two years ago. Since then, he's gained just over 500 yards on 40 receptions and two touchdowns.

"It's a little early to label him as a bust," Jets receivers coach Sanjay Lal told the NY Daily News this week. "When I think of bust, I don't think of him that way. I have seen players who are higher picks that were busts because of their own laziness. Those are busts."

The Jets drafted Hill in the second round of 2012 to be the big-bodied, perimeter target they needed. However, while Hill has shown flashes, injuries have kept him out of nine games and limited his reps in practice, which Lal credits for Hill's struggles.

"I have a hard time labeling a guy a bust when he's done everything in his power," Lal added. "Luck in terms of injuries hasn't been on his side. Therefore, he hasn't produced consistently. And he's still only 23 years old."

It's undoubtedly a prove-it year for the young route-runner, but he'll have a lot of competition to even get on the field on a regular basis. Gang Green acquired Eric Decker this offseason, and Jeremy Kerley is a staple in the lineup when healthy.

The Jets also drafted Shaq Evans and Jalen Saunders in the fourth round, and the rookie pair will get every opportunity to earn a starting gig.


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