This past week showed what the New York Jets saw in receiver Stephen Hill when they chose him during the 2012 NFL Draft. On Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, Hill collected 108 yards on three receptions and a touchdown. His scoring play came on a 51-yard strike from rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
He used his dynamic speed to get behind defensive back, and his great height allows him to catch passes out of defenders’ reach. There was a tremendous throw from Smith on the play, but of course it takes both quarterback and receiver to score points.
After a big-time regular season debut against Buffalo last season. Hill basically disappeared after Week 1. Several key drops in subsequent games created concern that he may be a disappointment. His struggles could have stemmed from a few factors.
Georgia Tech built their offense from the triple option. Running such an approach focuses on primarily operating ground plays, and receivers typically are used more as blockers rather than pass catchers. As a result, their players, like Hill, are raw from a pass-catching standpoint.
Hill also is only 22-years old. It must have also been difficult to be too effective with the struggling Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Now, Smith has taken over with superior arm strength to stretch opposing defenses. The rookie signal caller also possesses tremendous confidence. Instead of cowering like Sanchez, Smith appears to shrug off mistakes and keep throwing downfield.
Such conviction opens things up for Hill and others. The tools are there — it is simply a matter of Hill putting together solid games. That said, it remains too early to determine if this latest flash of talent was a tease or the start of sustained success.