After practice on Wednesday, New York Jets second-year receiver Stephen Hill said he wants to compete to be the No. 1 receiver on the Jets’ depth chart. That’s great and all, but there’s one thing a receiver has to do in order to be that go-to guy.
Catch the ball.
That’s one thing that Stephen Hill is having trouble doing—which is weird, being that a receiver’s main job is to catch the football.
Hill has shown improvements with running his routes, and he has made some tough catches, but, at the same time, he has also dropped some footballs in practice. Not a shocker, considering last season (his rookie year) his drop rate was 22 percent—the highest of any wide receiver with as many opportunities, according to Pro Football Focus.
But Hill denies those numbers, saying he dropped less. “I only dropped three balls last year,” said Hill. “I looked back at the film because I watch film every day. So however that goes, that’s people’s opinion. It’s not facts.”
It’s not really opinion when the drops are televised, though. One huge drop that comes to mind is the crucial third-down drop against the New England Patriots in Week 7. Had that play gone differently, the Jets, who were deep in Patriots territory, may have been able to score the winning touchdown instead of that game-tying field goal, but I digress.
Regardless of whether he denies how many passes he dropped or not, he does have to recognize that he has problems with the case of the dropsies. If the receiver does really want to be the No. 1 receiver, he has to obviously change that. With the Jets’ No. 1 receiver, Santonio Holmes, still rehabbing his Lisfranc injury, and with the Jets short on weapons, Hill has a big opportunity to step up and be the man.
Hill is the prototypical wide receiver with his frame, standing at 6’4″, 215 pounds, but his game is still raw. He’s 22 years old, and has one year of pro experience under his belt, but throughout his overall career, he hasn’t had the chance to master his position—well, at least not yet. Hill just had 49 receptions during his college career at Georgia Tech because the school runs a triple-option offense, and they barely throw the ball.
The second-year pro can no longer solely rely on his speed to make plays; he now needs to focus and keep his eyes on the ball, know how to use his body, and make those touch catches that keeps drives alive, in order to be No. 1.