New York Jets Fans Shouldn't Expect Much from Stephen Hill in His Rookie Year
I'm a huge fan of the New York Jets' Stephen Hill. Players with his body and physical ability are quite rare. In fact, only two players with Hill's height have run a faster 40-yard dash than him: Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson.
Eventually, he's going to be an excellent player. That just isn't going to be this year.
First of all, most rookie receivers don't exactly fly out of the gate. Randy Moss was an aberration. Most rookie receivers only show flashes of what they're capable of.
In Calvin Johnson's rookie year, he caught only 48 passes for four touchdowns. Jerry Rice caught 49 balls for only three touchdowns.
It takes time for rookie receivers to learn the offense, get used to the speed of the game and develop chemistry with their quarterback.
In Hill's case, those things are going to take more time than most receivers.
Hill was a part of an option offense at Georgia Tech. Assuming Tim Tebow doesn't become the Jets' full-time starter, this is the exact opposite of most NFL offenses. Hill didn't have to run the wide variety of routes he will be expected to master at the NFL level.
He will also have to master a whole new language with Tony Sparano's offense. That doesn't happen over night. Chad Ochocinco, a former Pro Bowler, couldn't do it in New England.
Having a star quarterback usually helps speed up this process, but the Jets don't currently have one. Mark Sanchez is at best a league-average quarterback, but realistically falls closer to the bottom.
Sanchez himself is still figuring out the nuances of playing in the NFL. He isn't going to speed up Hill's learning curve.
It's not like the Jets are built around passing, either. They're a ground-and-pound team that isn't particularly devoted to developing the passing game. Hill won't have as much opportunity to shine as he would for a team like Green Bay.
Hill will serve a specific role for the Jets. He's their only receiver with any sort of height, so in the red zone, he will be a prime target. With his speed, he'll also have chances to run deep routes. I'm guessing he catches approximately 40 passes for four or five touchdowns.
As a rookie, I'm fine with that. Hill was never going to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Expect him to show promise, but don't expect him to be an instant star.
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