Tyreek Hill has the NFL's most fitting Twitter handle -- @cheetah. The Chiefs superstar hilariously became the first wideout in the league to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau despite starting Week 12 with 752 yards. Hill devoured the Buccaneers long, physical man-coverage specialist cornerbacks like they were antelope with 269 yards and three touchdowns on 13 receptions in Kansas City's three-point win.
While rarely -- if ever -- labeled as the best wideout in the NFL, Hill is probably the most difficult cover. That thought can be likened to Torrey Smith's recent tweet stating Tom Brady as the GOAT quarterback but Aaron Rodgers the better player. For context, in a post-2019 draft article I wrote on the potential impact of Mecole Hardman in Kansas City, you can find the following descriptive snippets on Hill: "there's not a human on Earth right now who can do the things Hill is capable of on a football field" and "the twitchiness and ease at which Hill changes directions is unmatched by Hardman or anyone else currently in the NFL." See what I mean?
Hill leads the league in receiving yards and is on pace to set a career high in that category. So, are the Chiefs doing anything different with him this season that's helped elevate the blisteringly fast receiver to a new stratosphere? Yes, actually, they are.
Below is a table outlining Hill's usage and production from the slot during his time with the Chiefs. A trend should immediately pop.
|snap %||% of catches||% of receiving yards||% of touchdowns||yards per route run|
Slowly but surely, Andy Reid has moved Hill into the slot more and more. And this season, Hill is on pace to have 54 catches for 738 yards with nearly nine touchdowns from that inside alignment, which would set a personal best in catches and trail only his epically efficient 2018 in slot receiving yards.
How ridiculous was Hill in 2018, you ask? His 3.28 yards-per-route-run figure is absurd given how much volume Hill had from the slot that year. He ran 261 slot routes and among the 32 receivers with at least 200 routes from the slot, no other receiver besides Hill reached more than 2.0 yards per route run. He essentially lapped the field.
Hill's 2018 is the gold standard of slot efficiency. That's what he and the Chiefs are striving to recreate. Therefore, it's perfectly logical for Reid to up Hill's time spent inside.
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At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, it's impressive Hill has been able to accumulate the statistics he has while playing more than half his snaps as a perimeter receiver, a pre-snap location believed to be best-suited for bigger, more physical wideouts.
But space is Hill's best friend, and he's afforded more of it in the slot than being double teamed by the sideline on every play as a boundary target for Patrick Mahomes. In what's become vintage new-age Chiefs, instead of being content with quality production from Hill -- and the rest of their offense -- they've cranked things up by featuring Hill in the slot even more.
Other than that, Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy have deployed Hill almost identically to years past across the board. Motion rate, deep target percentage -- you name it. And defenses have played him similarly too, with right around 30% of his routes coming against man coverage and about 44% of his routes featuring press at the line.
By the way, Hill's destroyed the man coverage with 21 catches for 374 yards and eight touchdowns on just 29 targets. Bananas.
Facts of the matter are -- Hill is incredibly fast, ridiculously twitched up, and tracks the football like he's 6-3 because of a serious vertical and phenomenal ball-tracking skills. He's nearly coverage-proof, which, coupled with Reid's schematic brilliance, Mahomes' unrivaled arm talent, and the intimidating presence of Travis Kelce, makes Hill the most dangerous wideout in the NFL. And the 2020 season is reminding everyone Cheetah probably should get more consideration for the best receiver in the game.
(All advanced stats courtesy of TruMedia unless otherwise noted)