For a local New Jersey high school football player who played at St. Peter’s Prep, Will Hill has had an interesting body of work up until now. He attended Florida as a “five star” high school recruit and went on to have a solid but unspectacular career there. The New York Giants signed him as an undrafted free agent after issues off the field derailed his draft stock. After spending his first season playing mostly in nickel defense, Hill became the starter in 2013 following an injury to Stevie Brown. A strong argument can be made that he was the Giants’ best overall defensive player in 2013. Here’s the catch—Hill has already had two drug suspensions and he is now facing a third.
First of all, a third suspension would likely result in an eight-game suspension from the league. This would make it difficult for the front office to justify keeping Hill. But in all honesty, Hill’s most recent transgression under question is really just a combination of bad luck and a rule that doesn’t apply to players in 2014.
Hill was pulled over for something unrelated to drugs and the cops detected a strong odor of marijuana in the vehicle. I find it illogical that in the NFL a player is subject to random drug testing for non-performance enhancing drugs, like marijuana, but private companies all across the world do not test their employees. If a person comes to work and does their job to the best of their ability, then they should have more freedoms in their time off. Everything that Hill has done on the field and in the classroom since coming to the Giants has been to the best of his ability.
A lot of fans and media give credit to Jon Beason for the defensive turnaround in the second half of the season. While Beason did play a major role right upon arrival from the trade with Carolina, he was more of an on-field coach and solid player.
Will Hill was much more than just a solid player—he was often the best player on the field for the defense. According to Pro Football Focus, Hill graded out as the second-best safety in the entire league in 2013.
He personally sealed the win against the Washington Redskins with a forced fumble he caused by literally ripping the ball out of Pierre Garcon’s hands after a catch. He sent the Giants to overtime against the Detroit Lions, in a game they would eventually win, when he intercepted a fourth quarter Matt Stafford throw and took it to the house.
Hill was consistently around the ball at all times and making tackles. He made big plays with big hits, but his biggest contributions don’t make the stat sheet. Hill was one of the best safeties in the league in deep coverage. The Giants defense limited opponents to very few big plays, especially when a quarterback tried throwing to Hill’s half of the field. Is it really a coincidence that Antrel Rolle’s best season as a Giant came when Hill was across from his at safety?
Back in 2012, Hill credits getting together with former player and current trainer Ray Buchanon for his turnaround. Buchanon mentioned what everyone who watched Hill last season saw—Hill has the physical attributes and intangibles that only the great ones possess. All reports have suggested that Hill is early for team meetings and a successful student of the game. At 6-foot-1, 210-pounds, Hill poses a strong threat against both the run and pass—two aspects of the game that he has had the opposite of a hard time with.
So here’s to hoping that the case lacks enough evidence and Hill is not suspended for eight games by the league. If he does get suspended, he is probably still worth keeping around even if it means he can only play in eight regular season games. Hill is set to make just $570,000 in 2013. If he plays anything like he did last season, he would earn his entire salary in just a few a games.