After an up-and-down rookie season in the NFL, it seems like New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill has been getting lost in the shuffle when it comes to discussions about the future of the Jets’ offense going forward.
The Jets traded up to select Hill in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and he got off to a great start with a pro debut to remember. The young wideout had five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 1 win.
However, that early success proved to be fleeting, for both the player and the team.
The Jets would lose 10 of their last 15 games, and Hill only had 16 more catches for 163 yards and a single touchdown the rest of way, struggling at times and suffering a knee injury that ended his season prematurely.
Despite those struggles, it would be foolish to write off Stephen Hill after one season, considering that Hill was just 21 years old as a rookie, and he doesn’t turn 22 until Apr. 25, ironically the same day as this year’s draft.
Hill played in a triple-option offense in college, and the Jets knew when they drafted him that he was a raw athlete with spectacular ability who would need to be coached up by wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal.
On top of that, Hill was also pressed into service earlier than expected, after Santonio Holmes went down with a season-ending injury and the second option in the passing game, Dustin Keller, was also banged up all year.
It’s easy to say that his rookie season was a disappointing one, but the Jets knew there would be some growing pains with a kid that young who had little experience in a pro style offense. The offseason should do him good.
Of course, with a new offensive coordinator in Marty Mornhinweg, all of the offensive players will be starting from scratch with a new playbook. Not everybody can get a head start with Jeff Garcia like Mark Sanchez can.
However, things should be different for Stephen Hill, with a full year under his belt, Holmes returning from injury, and fellow wideout Jeremy Kerley emerging as a legitimate weapon to help take the pressure off him.
The bottom line is that it’s far too early to write the book on Stephen Hill’s Jets career.
Hill is far from the first wide receiver to struggle early in his career. In 2013, he’ll be looking to write his own story.