Chicago Sun-Times

Ga. Tech speedster Stephen Hill bears watching at WR

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Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill sounded too good to be true during his media interview at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Friday. He's 6-4, 215. He averaged 29.3 yards per catch last season. He claims to have a 40-inch vertical. And he's as fast as any wide receiver at the Combine.

''I've been clocked in the low 4.4s,'' he said. ''I'm thinking about running a 4.3 -- but whatever happens on Sunday happens.''

Hill, projected to be drafted anywhere from the second to the fourth round, became an even more intriguing prospect for NFL teams looking for a big wide receiver (cough, cough) when he posted back-to-back 40-yard dash times of 4.30 and 4.31 at the official Combine workout Sunday morning.

Those were the fastest times among wide receivers at the Combine. But nearly as impressive as the time is that he did what he said he was going to do -- running the best time of his life when he needed it most.

If he can do that, there's no telling what else he can do. Maybe NFL teams will take another look at Hill's sketchy college resume. Playing in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech, Hill had only 49 receptions in three years, but for 1,248 yards, nine touchdowns and a 25.5 average per catch. He had 28 receptions for 820 yards (29.3 yards per catch) and five touchdowns as a junior in 2011.

''I always feel like I'm better than somebody -- that's just the way I compete,'' said Hill, who renounced his final year of eligibility at Georgia Tech to enter the draft. ''I'm very confident in my game. I'm just ready to go out there and show it.''

Another factor in Hill's favor is that he compares to former teammate Demaryius Thomas, who also had relatively modest statistics in Paul Johnson's offense, but still was drafted 22nd overall by the Denver Broncos in 2010.

Thomas, who ran a 4.38 in the 40 (though he did not run at the Combine because of a broken foot), struggled with injuries as a rookie and was back in an option offense with Tim Tebow in 2011. But he did have four receptions for 204 yards in the Broncos' playoff upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the game-winning 80-yard touchdown catch that was more run than catch.

Before he ran the 40 on Sunday, I asked Hill how a 6-4 receiver with a 40-inch vertical and 4.3 speed was projected to go in the third or fourth round.

''I guess because of the offense and I haven't shown a lot of route running and things of that nature,'' he said. ''But you know, that's the reason we have this chance at the Combine. You can show the things you can do, Pro Day and individual workouts with coaches.''

After Hill's Combine performance, playing in a triple-option might not be such a detriment to his draft status. It helped him concentrate on downfield blocking. ''It showed that I fought every play,'' he said. ''I wasn't selfish and whatever the coach told me to do, I went on ahead and did it.

''It really wasn't frustrating [playing in an option offense]. Yes, you're a route-receiver and you're greedy and you want to get the ball. But ... I'm a winner. I like to win. Anytime you want to help a team, that's a big thing.''

And just one more question: Have you talked to the Chicago Bears?

''No, I haven't talked to the Bears yet,'' he said.

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2 Comments

Yeah he does pass the eye test. He is a project though.

I can only hope that the bears brass can see a golden opportunity in front of them. A good character kid, blazing speed. size, and desire. The thing that jumps out at me is this, you can't teach size and speed!!! Please please please Mr. Emery bring us Stephen Hill in April and I will never ask for anything else!

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on February 26, 2012 11:26 AM.

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