Tag:Stephen Hill
Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:15 pm
 

Hill shows off route-running Ga. Tech's Pro Day

ATLANTA -- Wide receiver Stephen Hill wanted to leave a specific impression with the NFL coaches who flocked to Georgia Tech's pro day.
  
"I just want to show them, because those are the guys who will be drafting me, that I can do great things other than just running deep routes," said the 6-4, 215-pounder, one of the stars of the NFL Combine, where he posted an unofficial 4.36 time in the 40-yard dash.
  
Mission accomplished. With two head coaches -- Atlanta's Mike Smith and Lovie Smith of the Bears -- and most NFL teams in attendance, Hill did his part to continue nudging his draft stock upward.
  
Running a variety of short and intermediate routes, Hill got in and out of his breaks fast and caught all 12 passes, including a fingertip-grab off the turf, form quarterback Eric Ward in Tuesday's workout. Vikings wide receiver coach George Stewart ran the receiver drills and ordered Hill through the route tree.
  
His eye-catching gold and silver Nike Vapor cleats only added to the spectacle. Scouts wanted to see something they didn't on film from Hill -- how he runs routes, if he repeats them with precision and how he tracks the ball over his shoulder and adjusts to poorly thrown passes. Hill was not a featured part of the run-first offense Tech operates.
  
Some scouts might be concerned with Hill's junior season, in which he dropped easily catchable balls but made the spectacular catches.
  
But scouts view him as a natural hands catcher. One observer credited him with five drops and 28 receptions last season.

Hill didn't run the 40-yard dash at pro day. He is 4.36 at the Combine tied for the fastest showing.
  
"I think I kind of showed enough," he said with a laugh when asked about not running at pro day.
  
Hill has been working out under the watchful eye of former Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis
  
"Basically it's just route-running, getting in and out of breaks, making sure I catch the ball with my eyes," he said. "Of course with my hands, but mostly with my eyes."

Several Tech seniors try to impress
Pro day wasn't all about Hill.  Also working out were seven Tech seniors projected as undrafted free agents: RBs Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples, DE Jason Peters, LB Steven Sylvester, WR Tyler Melton, DT Logan Walls and CB Rashaad Reid.

According to scouts, Peeples ran a 4.50, followed by Jones (4.53), Reid (4.56), Sylvester (4.75) and Peters (4.83).

Peters benched 225 pounds 28 times. Walls did 24 reps, followed by Sylvester (23), Melton (16), Jones (14), Peeples (14) and Reid (11 3/4).

Melton dropped his first pass but redeemed himself with a twisting, leaping grab.

Tech coach Paul Johnson said Jones and Peeples are "probably third-down backs, slot receivers. Clearly they've done some of that, catching the ball in space. It just depends on how teams see them.

"You hope they all get a chance, they all get into camp and see what happens."

 

 

Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:02 pm
 

GT's Hill rising fast, has scouts retracing steps

The man who might have sent scouts scrambling to the videotape following the end of the combine earlier this week is Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, regarded as among the so-called big winners from the Indy sessions.

Hill caught only 49 balls in three seasons in coach Paul Johnson's run-heavy triple-option offense, yet averaged 25.5 yards per reception, and clocked a blistering 4.36 40 at the combine, with a vertical jump of 39 1/2 inches.

Scouts are already dialing up former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis, the offensive coordinator at Savannah State and a guy who has worked diligently with Hill on route-running, for his take on the wideout.

And people are calling sprint coach Loren Seagraves, who also drew a Falcons paycheck and worked on explosive speed with Hill, and who has a ton of league contacts, for Hill insights.

"Raw in a lot of ways, but some of the stuff he does just makes your jaw drop," Mathis told The Sports Xchange. "There's so much to work with."

Hill said his role model is Detroit stud wideout Calvin Johnson, but the former Yellow Jackets player to whom he is most often compared is Demaryius Thomas, the 22nd overall choice of Denver in 2010.

Thomas was arguably more productive at the college level, with 85 catches in two seasons in Johnson's offense (120 total in three seasons), but was injury-prone and was unable to run at the '10 combine because of a broken foot. Even after he was drafted, Thomas broke the foot a second time, then sustained an Achilles tendon injury.

It's felt at this point that Hill is a tad better route-runner than was Thomas coming out of college, but that the latter might have been a little more physical.

But scouts feel that Hill has similar characteristics to Thomas, who torched the Pittsburgh secondary in Denver's playoff victory two months ago, and want to do a lot more research.

"The size and speed, obviously, are there," agreed one NFC scout. "But, outside of ordering up the tape, you don't want to fall all over yourself yet."

--By Len Pasquarelli
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:03 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:06 pm
 

Combine Wrap: RG3, Poe riding wave into Pro Days

INDIANAPOLIS - More than 325 of the best draft prospects from across the nation descended upon Indianapolis in waves over the past week in search of that sizzling 40-yard dash, that superhuman bench press or a kangaroo-like vertical jump.

Scouts and armchair personnel evaluators now have thousands of data points to crunch into Excel sheets and obsess over into the wee hours of the night. But what is the tangible impact at the end of the day?

The vast majority of the workout numbers aren't really meaningful. NFL front offices aren't concerned about all the numbers in the middle of the pack. They're interested primarily in the extremes - the unofficial 4.33-second 40-yard thrown down by Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson, the 44 bench reps hoisted by Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe and the all-around poor workout numbers put up by Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Those are the performances that stick out and affect draft stocks.

Even more important were the on-field position drills and the private interviews with teams. That's where prospects can really make an impression with their aptitude and personality. It all gets thrown into a big melting pot along with their game film and other pre-draft events to create an overall body of work.

Heading into the elongated final pre-draft stretch that is the Pro Day season, here are the prospects who helped themselves the most at the Scouting Combine - and those who have some serious ground to make up between now and April 26.

RISERS
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: He didn't throw a pass at the Combine, but "RG3" was unquestionably the biggest star of the week. He measured in at 6-2, displayed a magnetic personality, ran the 40 faster than most of the wide receivers, running backs and cornerbacks in attendance ... and set the Rams up to restock their roster with the bounty they will inevitably land by dealing the No. 2 overall pick.

Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech: With several other notable wide receivers measuring in shorter or slower than expected, the 6-4, 215-pound Hill tied for the fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.36) among all skill-position players, drawing comparisons to former Yellow Jacket teammate Demaryius Thomas, a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010.

Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College: Scouts chalked up Kuechly's staggering NCAA-record tackle numbers to instincts and reliable open-field tackling ability. But in posting a blistering 4.58-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 38-inch vertical, the 2011 Butkus Award winner proved he's a first-round caliber athlete who has the potential to be a three-down player capable of holding his own against athletic tight ends in coverage.

Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: The most important tests at the Combine for Owusu were of the medical variety after his collegiate career was cut short by a series of frightening concussions. NFL teams won't get these results for a few weeks, but you can be sure they'll be checking them closely after the Stanford product proved among the fastest (4.36 seconds) and most explosive (40.5-inch vertical jump) of all the receivers tested.

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis: No defensive lineman at the Combine showed a more exciting combination of size (6-4, 346), speed (4.98) and strength (44 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 2012 Combine best) than Poe. Teams fully acknowledge he's raw, but one of them will gladly invest a first-round pick in his upside.

Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida: The underclassman entered the Combine a projected fourth-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com. Combine the 4.33 40 with a DB-best 133-inch broad jump and a 38-inch vertical and he's poised to surge leading up to the draft.

David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech: He posted the elite agility test numbers that everyone expected. But it was showing up to team interviews in a suit and tie that really caught the attention of teams. He reportedly wore a suit to class at Virginia Tech. In an NFL draft world where the competition is so tight, a seemingly small detail like that could be enough in a tight battle with Miami's Lamar Miller to be the No. 2 running back drafted.

FALLERS
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: At only 5-11, 179 pounds, he is a finesse receiver who relies on his agility and straight-line speed to get open. Expected to be one of the fastest players at any position tested this year, Adams' 4.55-second showing in the 40-yard dash suggests that Arkansas' spread offense inflated his big-play ability. 

Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: The underclassmen entered the Combine with as much buzz as any defensive player. Viewed as a playmaking interior lineman and ascending talent, he increased expectations by showing up with an extra few pounds he claimed was muscle mass that didn't affect his speed. But his pro day will be critical after poor workout numbers  that included an alarmingly-slow 5.36 40 - third-worst among all defensive linemen - a 26.5-inch vertical, a 105-inch broad jump and a 4.81-second short shuttle.

Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State: After characterizing himself as misunderstood, Burfict raised more than few eyebrows during interviews with the media by blaming the ASU coaching staff for his erratic play in 2011. He then proved much less athletic in drills than scouts had hoped, registering a 5.09 40 that finished dead last among linebackers tested in Indianapolis this year. 

Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: With the top-rated quarterbacks either unwilling or unable to throw at the Combine, scouts had hoped that the 6-5, 243-pound Foles would take advantage of the extra attention to put on a dazzling throwing performance. Instead, Foles' methodical delivery, slow feet and inaccuracy on deep passes could push him into Day Three (rounds 4-7) territory.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: Regarded as the top center prospect in the draft entering the Combine, Konz surprised scouts with less than ideal strength (18 repetitions of 225 pounds). If he were to be drafted in the first round, it would be the first interior lineman with less than 20 repetitions to earn this distinction in the past five years.

Markus Zusevics, OT, Iowa: By tearing his pectoral muscle while performing in the bench press in front of scouts, Zusevics' stock could fall further than any other prospect tested at the Combine. The injury not only ended his Combine experience early, it puts into question his availability to play as a rookie.

Now it's on to the flurry of the Pro Day season, which kicks off at Missouri on Thursday and includes dozens of workouts across the country, culminating with McNeese State on April 6.

TOP COMBINE RESULTS
40-Yard dash (Unofficial)
1. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - 4.33
2. Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami - 4.36
    Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - 4.36
    Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford - 4.36
5. Ron Brooks, CB, LSU - 4.37

225-POUND BENCH PRESS
1. Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis - 44
2. David Molk, OL, Michigan - 41
3. Loni Fangupo, DL, BYU - 36
    Ronnell Lewis, DE/OLB, Oklahoma - 36
    Mike Martin, DL, Michigan
    Kendall Reyes, DL, UConn - 36

VERTICAL JUMP
1. Kashif Moore, WR, UConn - 43.5
2. Jerrell Jackson, WR, Missouri - 41.0
    David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech - 41.0
4. Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford - 40.5
5. Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian - 39.5
    Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - 39.5
    Mychal Kendricks, LB, Cal - 39.5
    Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan St. - 39.5

BROAD JUMP
1. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech - 133.0
2. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - 133.0
    David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech - 132.0
4. Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian - 131.0
    Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri - 131.0

3-CONE DRILL
1. Chris Rainey, RB, Florida - 6.50
2. Josh Robinson, CB, Central Florida - 6.55
3. Terrence Frederick, CB, Texas A&M - 6.59
    Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan - 6.59
5. Cody Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson - 6.60

--Derek Harper & Rob Rang contributed to this report.

Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:19 pm
 

WRs Floyd, Hill out-shine Blackmon Sunday

While the media isn't allowed in to view most of the workouts at the Scouting Combine, a select group of media members were invited in Sunday morning to watch the quarterbacks and receivers' positional drills. 

With NFLDraftScout.com's top-four rated quarterbacks -- Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler -- either unwilling or unable to throw at the Combine, it was the pass-catchers rather than the passers who stole the show.  This fact is all the more interesting considering that the highest regarded player at the position struggled to live up to his lofty billing. 
 
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon entered the week as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated wide receiver and viewed as a potential top five prospect but a rather ho-hum performance Sunday morning may put his perch at the top in peril. 

Blackmon demonstrated the strong hands and body control Sunday that he'd used to earn back to back Biletnikof awards as the nation's top wideout but it appeared that he was limited by the hamstring injury he'd cited as the reason he wouldn't be running the 40-yard dash this week. Blackmon had to gather himself a bit when cutting and never showed the top-end speed scouts would expect of an elite prospect. The key will be how much improvement Blackmon shows when he works out for scouts at his March 7 Pro Day. If he shows improved burst during the workout on the Oklahoma State campus, scouts will likely chalk up his Combine workout as an example of a player simply being limited by injury. If he isn't more impressive, however, Baylor's Kendall Wright and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd are very much in the race to be the first receiver selected in the 2012 draft. 

Floyd certainly helped his cause by running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds (unofficially) at 6-3, 220 pounds and showing excellent hands, flexibility, and surprisingly precise routes. Whether it was drifting across the middle during the gauntlet drill, dropping his hips on quick comeback routes or showing the ability to track the ball over either shoulder deep, Floyd consistently plucked the ball out of air, quickly secured it and got upfield in one fluid motion.

Perhaps the surprise star among receivers, however, was Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill. Possessing a similarly freakish combination of size and speed as his Yellow Jacket predecessor Demaryius Thomas, the 6-4, 215 pound Hill was credited with a blistering 4.30 time in the 40-yard (unofficial) and showed the sticky hands and excellent body control he'd flashed as a big play specialist in Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. If there was a concern about Hill's workout it would be that he seemed a bit stiff when re-directing. His quick acceleration and top-end speed, however, were every bit as obvious with the ball in his hands as they were when he was running the 40-yard dash.

Of the quarterbacks throwing in the morning session, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins was clearly the most polished. While he does not possess a cannon for an arm, Cousins showed enough zip and excellent accuracy on the deep out and was particularly accurate on the post-corner route -- a throw many view as the most difficult asked of quarterbacks during the Combine workout. Cousins does the little things well. While other passers struggled with their footwork and release point, Cousins' has a clean set-up and delivery and consistently stared down the middle as he dropped back, mimicking the form he'd use during a game to look off the safety before turning to fire passes to the outside. Considering his four years starting experience, two years as a captain and experience in a pro-style offense, don't be surprised if Cousins enjoys a late rise up draft boards very similar to the one Andy Dalton enjoyed a year ago. 

Two relatively unheralded quarterbacks also took advantage of the big stage to turn some heads. Southern Mississippi's Austin Davis and Richmond's Aaron Corp each showed enough arm strength and accuracy to prove that they belonged. Davis' touch on the deep ball was particularly impressive. 

On the flipside, Arizona's Nick Foles and Houston's Case Keenum struggled. Each were erratic with their accuracy, especially on longer routes. Foles has good enough tape to withstand the disappointing workout. Keenum, short and sporting a 3/4 release, may have an uphill climb ahead of him to get drafted despite a sparkling collegiate career.         
             
Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:34 am
 

Under radar underclassmen set to light up combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off Wednesday, nearly every where you look you'll find another analyst with a list of athletes who could put up astonishing workout numbers. 

Dane Brugler and I collaborated on a that identified ten players with questions to answer in Indianapolis. Our colleague, Bruce Feldman, identified ten "athletic freaks" who should put forth some of the best numbers of any players invited to the combine this year.    

The simple reality of the combine season is that only occasionally are scouts surprised by the athleticism shown by prospects. At least among the senior prospects, scouts have been looking at them all year long and know what to expect. Prospects who don't perform well despite having a month (or more) typically to prepare for the very specific drills tested serve as more of a red flag to most talent evaluators than a surprisingly strong workout usually helps a prospect. 

The story is very different for underclassmen, however. 

Teams haven't had nearly as much time to prepare for these athletes and considering that the 2012 draft will feature a record 65 underclassmen, no year in history has as much potential for under the radar underclassmen to emphatically put their names on the map than this one. 

Rather than wait to see which underclassmen will surprise, I thought I'd take a chance at predicting five I believe could light up the combine and see a significant boost to their draft stock, as a result. 

CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris has been a bit of a forgotten man since multiple run-ins with authorities led to his ultimately being kicked off the team by head coach Chip Kelly. While he'll certainly need to answer scouts' questions, once Harris is allowed to show off his athletic gifts, I believe he'll quickly force NFL teams to recognize his upside. After playing at less than 170 pounds throughout much of his career with the Ducks, scouts will be just as interested in how Harris physically measures up as well as how fast he runs, etc.

WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: Hill reminds me a lot of former Georgia Tech standout Demaryius Thomas for his size, straight-line speed and big play ability. NFLDraftScout.com is currently estimating Hill as being able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. I think he'll shave a tenth off that time, as well as impress in leaping drills. He's undeniably raw but don't be surprised if a strong showing in Indianapolis pushes Hill into the second round.

OT Bobby Massie, Mississippi:
Massie signed with Ole Miss as one of the elite prep talents in the country but partially due to the anonymous nature of the right tackle position and to Ole Miss' relative struggles, Massie isn't getting much attention in the mainstream media. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he shows very impressive athleticism, balance and power in drills based on his tape. The "big three" junior tackles -- USC's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin -- get the bulk of the attention but with the position essentially wide open after them, don't be surprised if Massie gives Ohio State's Mike Adams a run for his money as the 4th tackle off the board.

QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: Osweiler is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated quarterback and No. 45-rated prospect, overall, so he hardly qualifies as under the radar. However, considering the amount of hype being generated around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and even Ryan Tannehill, the lanky Osweiler hasn't received the national attention his talent warrants. If Osweiler can calm concerns about his mobility at a estimated 6-7, 240 pounds, scouts won't be able to resist admiring his strong, accurate arm.

CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson is one of three relatively "unknown" cornerbacks that I am significantly higher on than most (the other two are seniors Ryan Steed from Furman and Trumaine Johnson from Montana). Robinson's speed, agility and leaping ability jump off tape. If he works out as well as I think he will based on the athleticism I've seen on the field, scouts may have a hard time justifying Robinson not winding up a top 100 pick.        
Posted on: January 5, 2012 7:50 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:33 pm
 

Yellow Jackets stung by Hill's surprise NFL leap

Despite catching just 28 passes in 2011 and receiving an unfavorable grade from the NFL's Advisory Committee, wide receiver Stephen Hill has decided to leave Georgia Tech for a shot at the pros.

According to Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hill came to the decision after conferring with his parents, head coach Paul Johnson and receivers coach Buzz Preston. Hill's grade was not specifically given, but reading between the lines of Sugiura's report it sounds like the scouts graded Hill as a possible day three (rounds four through seven) pick.

Johnson's triple option offense rarely puts the ball in receivers' hands. Georgia Tech's scheme calls for big, athletic and strong receivers who can sneak downfield for the occasional deep pass but whose primary role is to provide blocking on the perimeter. Like former first round picks Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, the 6-5, 206 pound Hill has the bulk to certainly catch scouts' attention. At that size, if he were to run anything lower than a 4.60, he'd have a shot at getting drafted. And if he were to run considerably faster, Hill's stock could improve in a hurry as he's certainly shown flashes of playmaking skills.

While Hill only caught 28 passes in 2011 they resulted in a gaudy 820 yards. That means Hill averaged 29.3 yards per reception. That led the nation and is the best YPC average in Georgia Tech history.

The concern is that Hill remains a very raw receiver. Not only do his routes need a lot of work, so does his hands. Hill made some notable drops over his career. To be fair, he's also demonstrated spectacular leaping ability and rare hand strength to make some dazzling catches. Prior to his "breakout" 2011 performance, Hill caught just 15 passes in 2010 and four as a redshirt freshman.  For his career, Hill caught 49 passes for 1,248 yards (25.47) and nine scores.

Knowing that he lacks the experience catching the ball to impress scouts, Hill acknowledged that his ultimate draft grade may hinge on how he works out.

“With my size and my ability, I know I could raise my stock,” he said.

NFLDraftScout.com has some faith in his ability to do so. He was ranked as our No. 6 wide receiver prospect in the class of 2013.






 
 
 
 
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