It’s been a tumultuous journey for the 23-year old from St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City – the self-inflicted kind. After going undrafted in 2011 because of character and off-field concerns, Hill has failed multiple drug tests and been suspended for both Adderall and marijuana use in the past calendar year. Indeed, NFL execs do their homework. And in Hill’s case it’s fair to say the reward wasn’t worth the risk. In recent months, however, Hill has seemed intent on prioritizing his life, utilizing his natural talent and actually maintaining a football career. Through a short sampling of two games in 2013, the on-field product looks strong.
Hill looked like a man possessed in his season debut versus Philadelphia on October 6th. He flew around from his free safety position to record 11 ultra-aggressive tackles (many of the spectacular variety) against the sport’s elite offensive playmakers. Whether it was shooting the gap to rip down LeSean McCoy behind the line or put a harness on DeSean Jackson in open field, Hill showed no hesitation, no fear:
With the return of Terrell Thomas to the lineup in week six, Hill lost about half of his defensive snap count from the prior week. He still managed to record four solo tackles, including disruption of this well designed screen pass to Matt Forte:
While his aggressiveness has been a welcome infusion to a dead roster, that style doesn’t always lend itself to sound, team defense. Clearly Hill much prefers to attack in space and lay the wood near the line of scrimmage, but his presence in coverage is a different story. Eyes in the backfield = late covering assignments downfield. He inexcusably left corner Trumaine McBride out to dry against elite deep threat DeSean Jackson, failing to get over until it was too late. In fact, McBride was behind Hill in coverage. It’s hard to imagine what he was thinking, or not thinking. He was also late to account for Brandon Marshall on Marshall’s first score on Thursday night. You must shade your coverage to the team’s primary weapon:
Hill was penalized for Unnecessary Roughness and fined $15,750 for his hit to the helmet on Zach Ertz in week five. Both the penalty and fine were questionable at best, as he was clearly trying to make a play on the football and the contact was incidental. He was again falsely penalized for UR in week six for ‘tapping’ the helmet of Jay Cutler. Just like in the NBA – your reputation follows you. Keep up the energy level, “Thrill”.