The latest proof that the NFL Draft is more art than science: Two picks after the Jets selected wide receiver Stephen Hill 43rd overall in 2012, the Bears took Alshon Jeffery. One player is among the best young wideouts in the game, the other is now looking for work.
Hill was released Saturday after the Jets failed to unload him on someone else, reports Newsday's Bob Glauber.
No trade for Jets WR Stephen Hill. Team has released him, per source. 2012 second-round pick down the drain.— Bob Glauber (@BobGlauber) August 30, 2014
By any measure, conventional or otherwise, Hill was a huge disappointment. He was supposed to be the big, fast downfield target that would make life easier for Mark Sanchez. Instead, Hill struggled as a rookie, catching 24 passes for 342 yards and one touchdown, and things got worse in 2013 when he managed just 21 receptions for 252 yards and three scores.
In June, Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal said it was "a little early to label him as a bust" but Hill now seems to qualify for that distinction following his release.
Back in September 2012, perhaps as a motivational ploy, coach Rex Ryan admitted that he didn't even want to draft Hill. "Well, nothing told me he would (contribute),'' Ryan told SI.com's Don Banks at the time.
"Nothing. When I saw the tape (of his collegiate play) I was concerned," Ryan continued. "But (then-Jets general manager) Mike Tannenbaum and (senior personnel executive) Terry Bradway and all our scouts were adamant about this guy. They were adamant that this guy can do it. He can run all these routes, he had good hands and he's got 4.2 speed at 6-foot-5. He was the guy they all wanted, but honestly, when it came down to it, a wideout? Not my dream pick. But now that we have him, of course, I want to claim him: 'Oh, that was my pick.' But it really wasn't.''
Now the Jets head into the season with Eric Decker as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver and plenty of questions behind him on the depth chart.