TOJ’s Memo to the New York Jets: Do Not Cut Stephen Hill

As we prepare for training camp and the preseason draws near over the next couple of months, a lot of attention will be paid to the numerous roster battles going on. One of the more contested battles is taking place at the wide receiver position.

Eric Decker will start at one of the wide receiver positions, that much we know. While Jeremy Kerley can be a productive wide receiver lined up on the outside, he’s much more of a mismatch in the slot where he can be matched up with linebackers and nickel cornerbacks. Jalen Saunders will most likely be utilized in the slot as well. In fact, it is because of Saunders’s ability in the slot, coupled with Kerley’s play on the outside, that Kerley may start opposite Decker.

However, if he does not then that battle will be between David Nelson, rookie Shaq Evans, and third year WR Stephen Hill. Evans is intriguing (we will be doing a breakdown of him in the coming weeks), Nelson developed a nice rapport with Geno Smith last year and is being underrated by some. Then, there’s 84.

The name “Stephen Hill” leads to much groaning amongst Jets fans and rightfully so. Hill has been a tease his entire career in Jets green thus far as he has only had good games against the Buffalo Bills. Think about this: If Stephen Hill played against the Bills every game, his season totals would be 96 receptions, 1560 yards, and 24 touchdowns. Sadly, the Jets don’t play the Bills 16 times.

A productive Stephen Hill would open up the offense much more for second year quarterback Geno Smith and would force teams to think twice about rolling coverage to Decker. Hill has shown lapses in concentration, an inability (or unwillingless) to go up and fight defensive backs for the ball and has committed some brutal mistakes in key situations (the drop in New England comes to mind).

However, he has made some big plays as well; the sideline catch against Pittsburgh where Ryan Clark blasted him out of bounds was a highlight from last year as Hill demonstrated good focus and great awareness to get his two feet in bounds. It is plays like this that demonstrate the talent Hill has. He is also, 6’4”, 215 pounds and runs a sub 4.4 forty yard dash.

For the record, I actually think Hill ends up starting opposite Decker and putting together a good year for the Jets. The third year for a wide receiver is usually when you find out whether he has it or he doesn’t. Let’s take a look at how other wide receivers have done in their third years. Eric Decker’s are his combined stats for his first two seasons, while the other examples are the averages for the first two seasons.

Eric Decker
First Two Seasons: 50 REC, 718 YDS, 9 TDs (combined)
Year 3: 85 REC, 1064 YDS, 13 TDs

Dez Bryant
First Two Seasons: 54 REC, 744 YDS, 7 TDs
Year 3: 92 REC, 1382 YDS, 12 TDs

Braylon Edwards
First Two Seasons: 47 REC, 698 YDS, 5 TDs
Year 3: 80 REC, 1289 YDS, 16 TDs

Sidney Rice
First Two Seasons: 23 REC, 268 YDS, 4 TDs
Year 3: 83 REC, 1312 YDS, 8 TDs

Demaryus Thomas
First Two Seasons: 27 REC, 417 YDS, 3 TDs
Year 3: 94 REC, 1434 YDS, 10 TDs

The last 3 examples I cited (Edwards, Rice, Thomas) are the ones to pay attention to because their measurables are similar to Stephen Hill’s. All three are tall, possess long strides when running routes, and had similar issues with drops during their first two seasons.

Also, much like Hill, Thomas came from the triple-option offense at Georgia Tech. Hill was as raw entering the league as Thomas. Thomas seems to have figured it out in Year 3 and is now one of the better WRs in the NFL. The hope is that Hill can do the same.

There is one thing that needs to be pointed out as well. All 3 WRs that I mentioned above improved their production with improved QB play. Braylon’s breakout season coincided with Derek Anderson’s Pro Bowl season, Sidney Rice’s breakout season went hand in hand with the arrival of future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, and Thomas broke out once Peyton Manning arrived in Denver.

Geno struggled mightily through the middle part of his rookie season, but ended the season on a high note. Geno appeared to lose confidence in Hill as the season went on last year. If they can establish that trust and Geno plays an entire season the way he played during the last four games, then Stephen Hill will have more of an opportunity to break out like these receivers mentioned.

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Author: Dalbin Osorio

Dalbin Osorio is a Case Planner for Graham-Windham, New York's oldest child welfare agency. He is, also, a student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dalbin graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Business Administration. A 3 sport utility man in high school (think a mix of Jerome WIlliams, Brad Smith, and Jayson Nix), he joined TOJ in 2013.

  • JetOrange

    If you are going to draft a player in the second round with outstanding measurables and a high ceiling but little productivity in college, you better be prepared to be patient. Fans are not patient. You keep Hill because he has outstanding deep speed that opens things up for Decker and Kerley threatening the top of the defense, and he is an excellent run blocker for a running team. He needs to produce but the Jets will give him every chance to develop because of that high ceiling.

  • Dan

    “If Stephen Hill played against the Bills every game, his season totals would be 96 receptions, 1560 yards, and 24 touchdowns. Sadly, the Jets don’t play the Bills 16 times.”

    This cracked me up.

  • JetOrange

    Your best corner now plays Decker,your second corner plays Kerley, with a safety cheating in the box to play the run, Hill may wind up with the same coverage he got in Buffalo on a regular basis

  • Dan in RI

    Thank you for posting this. We are pretty quick to label someone a bust when sometimes it is just opportunity and circumstance. Hill has had injuries and played with lousy QB’s, on top of being as raw as they come out of college. If he is healthy, and if the QB play improves (I am almost sure it will–since Hill played with both Sanchez and Smith at their worst), I think he should be a much better receiver this year. How good? Who knows? But you are absolutely right about giving him a serious look in his third year.

  • CB Cooper

    That was Polamalu that delievered that hit on Hill. Hell of a catch. I thought he was definitely dropping that. I think either Enunwa or Hill is making the roster. I don’t mind giving Hill one more year. Decker and Amaro should really help take some pressure off of him.

  • You cut him because he’s not good at football. He’s track guy trying to play wide receiver. Every rookie we drafted is better then him. We can’t keep placing bind faith on his combine. He’s so one dimensional defenses his presence hurts the offense more than it helps. Body catchers don’t stick in the NFL.

  • Frank Antonelli

    Finding a receiver that can take the top off the defense is essential for this offense. Hill is really the only option that can realistically provide the Jets that weapon, unless one of the rookies makes an immediate impact, which is very unlikely. So if Hill doesn’t develop and have an outstanding season then it could be another long year for the offense.

  • Mark

    Hill showed a lot of guts last year – fearless over the middle while pounded regularly. Injury prone? It’s a wonder he’s alive.

    There are many areas Hill needs to improve but he has shown impressive growth. My impression is that in his 2d year his drops were reduced greatly.

    I expect to see more crispness to his routes. With Geno’s help by leading him properly we should see both improved vertical range and yards after catch.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    With a WCO, being able to stretch the field vertically is secondary to stretching the field horizontally, which is accomplished through the routes run, precise timing between QB & WR, & completing a high percentage of passes.

    While Hill may have reduced his drops last season, his catch rate was still horrible. I’m not sure he will ever be a good enough route-runner to be a quality WCO WR, but he may prove good enough for other offensive systems &, in that case, should be traded to a team that can utilize his skill set.

    Furthermore, I don’t think Hill has the skills to create much after the catch unless he gets behind the defenders & can outrun them for a TD. In the highlight video & what I recall of his play on the Jets, he puts a lot of effort into not being tackled, particularly if a defender has him in his grasp, but he does not have the quickness, agility, or power/leverage to elude defenders.

  • Stevesc

    As I’ve mentioned before, I believe Hill is the key on how the wide receiver spot shakes out. If he can up his game, the Jets would have two big wide outs and plenty of options in the slot with Kerley, Saunders and Ford, smaller receivers with a lot of speed. So, like most on this post I would love to see him take that step.

  • glegly

    There are just too many red flags with Hill. I wish, I hope, I WANT to be wrong. But you’d should see more than just a COUPLE of noticeable plays in years 1-2 to build a resume that will result in a level step up in production for year 3, right?

  • No doubt..big year for Hill to prove he’s capable A-of staying on the field, so B-he can produce numbers that his ‘measurables’ suggest they could/should.

    In his 1st 2yrs, Vincent Jackson played 24 games (so durability issue), with 7 starts. He had 30 catches, and 512 yards. In his ‘breakout’ 3rd year, he started all 16 games, and exploded for 41 catches and 623 yards..oh, and he had Brees and Rivers tossing balls to him.

    There are a number of similar examples, at the WR spot. Unless Shaq Evans is the outlier, of outliers, of 4th round rookie WRs, the risk/reward still favors keeping Hill. I’m not saying he’ll become VJax, or any other top WR, struggled early, but I think the abilities he has are worth keeping over a guy like David Nelson, who is solid, but also probably reached his ceiling.

    They should have picked D Moncrief when they had the chance…..

  • I have written many posts to GGN about the absolute NEED to keep Hill he was drafted as a project and in his first 2 years had 2 OCs, horrendous QB play, only one decent receiver to line up with(Kerley) one year with a TE of any value although I thought Keller was overrated, no sustainable running game and a horrible OL effort for 2 years running. Speaking of running that was all our QB did for 2 years to avoid the relentless pass rush. Given all this talent I’m surprised Hill didn’t develop much faster( tongue seriously in cheek ). We finally have a compleat of weapons to go with this year. He needs to be given the whole year before any decisions are made.

  • JetOrange

    @ Lidman….Could the frustration by the organization with Hill contribute to the Jets passing on Moncrief, a developmental WR. .?? Imagine 3. Moncrief 4A. Jalen Saunders 4 B. MacDougle
    4C. Dozier…Moncrief drafted by the Colts, will watch his career

  • KAsh

    Expect the Jets valued McDougle higher than both Moncrief and Saunders, which is why they drafted him before the other two. Taking McDougle in the third round (at the end of day two of the draft, rather than the start of day three) means they designated McDougle as a clear day two prospect, and were not willing to risk letting him fall, like they were Moncrief and Saunders.

  • JetOrange

    You are correct. For this team CB is more important than WR after obtaining Decker. I think Idzik is also looking for leverage in 2015 with Kyle Wilson..4A. Saunders leverage with Kerley, pattern ?
    I will compare Moncrief and Evans as there career goes forward.

  • Mark

    I hope we need ‘leverage’ with Wilson in 2015.

  • JetOrange..I’m guessing they simply had McDougle higher on their board. I don’t see the parallel between Hill and Moncrief though. Yes, both had great measurables, but DM produced in the best conference in college, whereas Hill was much more of an upside/potential pick.

  • Sleeve

    Coming out of Georgia Tech his Junior Year, everyone knew he was a big project. Elite size and speed is there but came from an option offense that didn’t throw the ball often. knowing this, I expected him to make major gains in his second season however having an off season knee operation as well as dealing with a new offense really hindered his ability to transition into an impact player. Instead of working on route running, fine tuning his game, getting coached up; Hill needed to spend the majority of his time last off season rehabilitating and learning a new offense. This being the case, I don’t think we can write off Hill just yet. I have some optimism this year in that Hill is another year removed from his 2013 surgery and him having his first full professional offseason which he hopefully focuses on polishing his game. But the Jets certainly did the right thing investing in a number of Wide Outs this off season just in case Hill cannot turn the corner into a contributor. I think all questions on Hill will be answered this camp/preseason. To write him off before camp begins is premature..