When the New York Jets traded up four spots to the 43rd overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to select Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill they instantly upgraded their offense. Now, Stephen Hill is officially a New York Jet. The Jets and Hill agreed to a four-year, $5 million contract according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
Last season, the Jets offense was anemic at times. Quarterback Mark Sanchez never seemed to really get on the same page as his wide receivers. The Jets had brought in Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason and drafted Jeremy Kerley to boost a pass offense after the Jets decided to let Sanchez-favorite Braylon Edwards walk in free agency. Hopes were high heading into last season but Sanchez had trouble getting in-synch with his receivers. Mason became unhappy and was traded to the Houston Texans during the season. Burress never emerged as the threat the Jets hoped opposite Santonio Holmes after being away from football for over two years. The Jets needed a wide receiver that would be able to stretch defenses and emerge as a threat in the red zone.
Although Hill is raw and will likely need a year or two before emerging as a legitimate target, he should see plenty of playing time and will likely line up as a starter opposite Holmes with Kerley lining up in the slot in three receiver sets. Teams will have to account for Hill’s speed and his ability to score on any catch. This is what adding a receiver who averaged 29.3 yards per catch does. Adding Hill will also help the running game as safeties will not be allowed to play as close to the line in an effort to stuff the running back. Instead, they will be forced to play back to help out the corners who will have their hands full with Hill and Holmes.
The new collective bargaining agreement has taken a lot of the power away from the rookies and given it to the teams so a holdout or long, drawn-out negotiations were unlikely. However, getting Hill signed early just means extra time for him to learn the playbook and learn his role in the offense. Hill became the second player in his rookie draft class to sign a contract behind fellow second round receiver Alshon Jeffery of the Chicago Bears. I am interested to see the dawn of the Stephen Hill Era and see exactly what this kid has got. He could become the Jets number one receiver in two or three years.