And while Pro Football Reference doesn't have an option to sort out receivers based on what kind of offense they played in at the collegiate level (but boy, what gold would that be?), we can look at wide receivers taken around his slot in the past few years to get a feel for what to expect of him.
So, with Hill being selected 43rd overall, we'll look at picks 33 through 53 at the wide receiver position since 2006 in order to create a baseline of expectations. With a sample size of 19, that seems like enough to draw from, especially since the passing revolution of the NFL began shortly before that season.
The lengthy list in itself is evidence enough to the value of wide receivers in the second round, but are GMs and coaches getting the value there that they think they're getting?
A few interesting notes in observing the rookie seasons of the aforementioned receivers:
- The receivers referred to above played in an average of 12 games in their rookie season and started an average of five.
- Averaged 26 receptions for 331 yards (approx. 12.6 yards per catch) and just shy of two touchdowns.
- No receiver taken between picks 33 and 53 since 2006 had over 1,000 yards or more than six touchdowns in their rookie season, although two recorded over 900 yards and four more had over 600 yards receiving.
- Only five of the 19 played in less than 10 games, but none of them started all 16 games (although two of them started 15 games).
- Only four of the 19 have been voted to the Pro Bowl at any point in their career, and none have been voted to the All-Pro team.
- Only six of the 19 receivers listed were out of the league by 2011.
- Only five of the 19 receivers listed have recorded more than 10 career touchdown receptions.
Thus, it's clear that expectations should be kept fairly low for second-round wide receivers, at least in their rookie season. That should be especially true for Hill, who didn't get thrown the ball much in college (49 receptions, 1,248 yards and nine touchdowns in his career) and played in an option-style offense that didn't require an ability to run the full route tree. He may not have to do so in the NFL, either, but that lack of versatility could really hurt him when defensive backs key in on his game.
Hill may physically outmatch his opponents, but that will only take a player so far at the next level.
Fans of the Jets are well aware that the team doesn't draft skill position players, specifically at wide receiver, all too often (although, headed into this year, eight of the 13 draft picks the Jets made from 2009-2011 were QBs, WRs or RBs), but the Jets have drafted just four wide receivers since 2006.
Just one look at that list and it's clear why the team felt it needed to invest a second-round pick in Stephen Hill. They typically haven't gotten much, if any, production out of their drafted talent at wide receiver.
They're clearly hoping that's not the case with Hill, but expectations should be tempered for the raw, physical specimen taken in the second round, the land of value but not of big-play receivers.
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