Stephen Hill doesn’t have the body of work, but has the body and mindset Patriots need at wide receiver
|02.24.12 at 11:48 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — This year’s draft class is full of big-bodied wide receivers, and for a Patriots team that needs one badly, that’s a good sign.
The Pats have two picks in each of the first two rounds, and while they could get someone like Rueben Randle or Alshon Jeffery in the first round, one interesting second-round option might be Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill.
Hill, who measured in Friday at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, brings a lot to the table. Playing in an option offense, he didn’t put up insane numbers in college (as a junior he posted career highs with 28 receptions for 820 yards and five touchdowns), but it made him into a good blocker. He also has outstanding speed, as he’s hoping for a time in the low 4.4’s or 4.3 range in the 40-yard-dash. In the past, he’s been timed as low as 4.30. He’s a big receiver, but he hopes to be quick and nimble at the next level.
“I look more at small wideouts because I want to be that 6-foot-4 wide receiver playing a 5-foot-10,” he said. “Coming out of my breaks, that’s my biggest thing that I’m trying to work on now.”
Hill hopes to follow in the footsteps of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, both of whom were receivers at Georgia Tech before becoming stars in the NFL. Playing at Georgia Tech means less numbers and more blocking, and for a position that has been known to have divas, it means pushing the egos aside.
“It really wasn’t frustrating,” he said. “Yes, you’re a route receiver and you’re greedy and you want to get the ball, but any time you’re helping out a team [it doesn’t matter], because I’m a winner and I like to win. Any time you want to help out a team, that’s a big thing.”
Added Hill: “They’re all looking for receivers that can block also.”
That type of attitude could strike a chord with the Patriots. Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around, and adding a big, fast and selfless receiver might help the Patriots in a clear position of need.
Hill said he’s stayed in touch with Thomas, who was a first-round pick for the Broncos in the 2010 draft. Thomas’ advice to Hill when the latter was considering leaving school for the NFL was clear.
Recalled Hill: “He said, “If you’re going to make that step [to the NFL], you’d better go ahead and do it, because this is a man’s game.”