As we’ve done in years past, we’re doing our Roster Countdown series of posts as we get ready for the regular season. See the full list of players we’ve covered so far here.
Background: Hill attended Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, Georgia, where he was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals and was ranked as the 99th wide receiver in the class of 2009. In addition to football, Hill broke the state record for long jumpers at the high school level. Hill was recruited to, and attended Georgia Tech from 2009 to 2011. The program is known for other recent standout receivers like Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, but which runs the triple-option offense, which diminishes the impact of receivers. Even so, Hill finished his career with 49 receptions for an eye-popping 1,248 yards along with nine touchdowns. In January of last year, Hill announced he’d forego his senior season for the NFL draft. The Jets drafted the project player in the second round and the season turned out to be a rollercoaster ride for Hill. With two scores, five catches, and 89 yards in his first game, things seemed to be off to a good start. Hill didn’t have five catches again until the Jets game against the Cardinals at the end of the season and then he suffered a sprained LCL which landed him on the IR and for which he had offseason surgery. Over the course of the year, the rookie wideout had four games with three or more catches and five where he had none. There was promise, but his production seemed to be boom or bust.
2013 Projection: Hill is a key piece of what this offense could be — for good or ill. There’s no other player on the roster who could be as deadly a weapon based on his physical gifts. At the 2012 Combine, Hill ran a 4.36 40 yard dash, put the bar up 14 times and had a 39.5 vertical leap — all at 6’4″ 215 pounds. Hill has shown that he can be productive and he had some good moments at the end of last season. Remember, Hill played in a triple-option offense and came out of school early. He’s still learning quite a bit and some of the struggles that he’s experiencing so far should be expected. Even so, Hill has struggled with adjusting to the new offense and was razzed by fans for too many drops during the team’s minicamp a few weeks ago. Make no mistake, for the Jets offense to have breakout potential, Hill will have to be a key figure. Hill will need to spend as much time as possible in the playbook and move past the mental mistakes as he recovers from his knee surgery. If Hill can do these things, he could push the offense forward and end the season with more than 50 receptions.