The Ravens have always employed the ‘best player available’ philosophy in the NFL Draft and there is no reason to believe they will waiver from that strategy this year. Over the next month and a half I will be posting about players I believe the Ravens are or should be targeting in the draft. First up, Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill.
Position: Wide Receiver
College: Georgia Tech
Height: 6′ 4″
- Ozzie Newsome said it himself at the “State of the Ravens” address: he will look to improve the team at wide receiver this off-season. The Ravens have their possession wideout in Anquan Boldin and their deep guy in Torrey Smith, but what they are missing is their ‘big’ receiver. Stephen Hill stands 6′ 4″ and weighed in officially, at 214 pounds.
- His game tape shows exceptional hands. He often makes plays above the head of the defensive back, which is referred to as ‘going up the ladder’. He makes all his catches with his hands and away from his body, as opposed to trying to trap the ball against his chest.
- Hill’s speed is a questionable area. He blazed at the combine, running a 4.31 forty, which was best among all wide receivers, but his game tape does not suggest he plays at that speed. He has more build up speed, he gains momentum as he continues to run, as opposed to just blow you off the line speed like Mike Wallace possesses.
- Hill played in the triple option offense at Georgia Tech so he could have some issues translating to an NFL playbook early. While I don’t share the concern that he will have problem learning the route tree, I think Hill will struggle more with “on the fly” or “option” reads. Contrary to what the Madden video game would have you believe, there are very few NFL passing games that have routes set in stone. Wide receivers need to read the defense, see the same thing the quarterback sees and adjust accordingly. This will be Hill’s biggest obstacle in his rookie season.
Outlook: Stephen Hill is a talented wideout with all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. He will struggle with certain aspects of the NFL game, but what rookie doesn’t? The Ravens would be lucky to find Stephen Hill still on the board come pick 29.
Justin Ford lives in Carroll County, MD. He has been playing and coaching football for 13 years. Follow him on Twitter- @JRFord0