The Cleveland Browns are going through their roster looking to get down to 53 men by the end of the Pre-Season. Expect the Browns to be busy in trying to acquire players; through waiver claims, signings and trades. One player that is reportedly available is New York Jets receiver Stephen Hill.
Hill was a second round pick of the Jets in 2012 and is heading into his third season. He has been injury prone and has had limited production in the limited Jets offense. In 2 seasons he has played in a total of 23 games amassing 45 receptions. He has been targeted an amazing 106 times though on those 45 catches. A combination of bad QB play, deep routes with poor completion percentage and some catching issues on his part create the huge disparity in targets and catches for Hill.
Yet Hill is young and developing at 6’4″ and 215 pounds. He ran a limited route tree at Georgia Tech and is still learning to develop in the NFL. Hill was under 4.4 in the 40 yard dash and has speed for miles. He just hasn’t been able to put it all together in his short time in the NFL.
The Browns, bare at the receiver position, should be willing to give him a shot. While he may not cure their woes, he has the height speed combination that is missing outside of Josh Gordon and Charles Johnson. Hill and Johnson present as similar players in their development and could benefit from each other. Johnson is a bit smaller and not as fast but is a little more advanced in his route tree understanding.
In Pre-Season the Browns have rarely gone down field deep, instead hitting mostly slants, outs, crossing and curl routes. Hill could take the top off the defense, being able to get off jams with his size. With the rules being enforced the way they are Hill could create numerous first downs just in penalties. Giving Brian Hoyer a player he can just chuck it up to, who can go up and get a high ball, can help keep the defense honest.
Hill is not likely to cost much in terms of a trade. A late round pick, a low end defensive lineman or even a linebacker could do the trick. Browns coach Mike Pettine and Jets coach Rex Ryan obviously have their history which could hurt or help a possible transaction.
Would Hill be the catalyst to a newly successful Browns offense? Likely not, but he could be a piece to bring in and see if a change of scenery, and a new offensive system, could serve him well. At a low cost, and with all the problems the Browns have on offense, it seems worth a call.
What do you think of taking a chance on the 3rd year, 2nd round pick Hill?