Many times in professional sports the best thing to do is to play connect the dots. Does not mean it is always right, but doing so allows us to try to piece together a puzzle that we don’t have all the information for. So let us start with connecting dots on Stephen Hill:
- Stephen Hill, the tall/fast wide receiver from the New York Jets was waived yesterday.
- The Cleveland Browns receiving corp is limited, at best.
- The Browns need a bigger, faster receiver to off-set the loss of Josh Gordon.
- Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator when the Jets drafted Hill in the second round.
- The Browns have the 4th highest waiver priority on any player.
Connecting all those dots leads to the popular thought that the Browns will put a claim in on Hill. That is still possible as Hill does have something that the Browns are missing. The only cost to claiming Hill, besides his contract, is the opportunity cost of cutting/waiving another player. In all waiver or free agent acquisitions it is like trading one player for another. Based on where the Browns have a couple extra players that likely means releasing one of their corners.
Yet claiming Hill, and all of his untapped potential, comes with a risk. Hill has not scratched the surface of what he might be able to do but how deep is it below the surface? His route running is suspect and his hands are not good. For receivers those are two primary abilities. Good route running allows the receiver to get open and allows the QB to know exactly where the receiver is. Having good hands, for a person called a receiver, should be job description #1. Hill is limited in the #1 job of a receiver.
The Browns have a history with such a player. Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer cut Greg Little before the season primarily because he couldn’t catch the ball. MarQueis Gray was waived yesterday mostly because he couldn’t secure the ball after the catch. Adding a player just due to his physical size and speed is fools gold. Looks good, worth nothing.
The Browns still could add Hill but if they do it is because they believe they will be able to improve those two areas of his game. Adding a big 6’4″ receiver with blazing speed and giving him time to work on his hands and route running is fine for a team that is likely to not compete. Worst case scenario is giving Hill a year to “get it” and if doesn’t you release him next year.
Adding Hill to the Browns is both a possible reality, they have a need, and a fantasy, he isn’t going to replace Josh Gordon.
What do you think of the possible addition of Hill?