Connie Carberg was once a scout for the New York Jets, and was the first female scout in the NFL. She knows the Jets, and knows her way through tape, so her opinion is a valid one when it comes to the 2012 draft class of the Jets.
One of the most intriguing picks in that draft was Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, and when asked about Hill via email exchange, Carberg said, "[The Jets] needed a field-stretching threat like Stephen Hill and I LOVED the selection. Even though only caught 28 passes Sr. Year playing on option Ga. tech offense." Emphasis hers.
Hill is the receiver the Jets were hoping to get when they signed Plaxico Burress last year, but is even an upgrade.
If we look back a year ago at the pickup of Plaxico, some could argue that while he provided little to no substantial value between the 20’s, his effect in the Red Zone alone was worth it. Stephen Hill has the definite opportunity to be a red zone threat AND to work the entire field. Hill is a prototypical height-weight-speed receiver, at 6'4" and 215 pounds with arms just shy of 33.5" long arms and running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Jets lacked that kind of presence on their roster before, during and after Plaxico Burress' stay in New York. They're hoping Hill fixes that.
Connie is cautiously optimistic, though, that Hill's skills can translate to the NFL, and adds, "He’ll need to improve on route running to create separation, but his deep speed is exactly what the Jets need opposite Santonio. He will command attention from defenses, which Plax never did last year."
He can do more than just command attention from opposing safeties, though, and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson explained why to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Even if he's not a "complete player" just yet, his contributions to the offense can be substantial if he provides a consistent deep threat and red zone target. But Connie thinks Hill's contributions can reach far beyond the offense, and into the locker room.
[Georgia Tech wide receivers] get a little bit of everything. Certainly, they have to block, and they are running routes and reading coverages. That's what we've told those guys all along. A lot of people want to be negative and say it hurts them and they don't get developed. But the feedback that I've gotten is that they [are ready for the NFL]. The offense kind of turns them into a complete player, and they can see all of that on tape.
"Lastly, this kid is a goldmine when it comes to ethics and honor," she writes. "He’s unselfish with a great attitude and knows how to block. Losing Braylon really hurt [the Jets] blocking schemes on the outside, and 'ground and pound' needs WR’s that can block."
Hill's progression to a true NFL offense and his production with quarterback Mark Sanchez throwing the ball will be two central topics to focus on this season, but his long-term growth will be something we'll watch with interest for years to come. If scouts are right, it's only a matter of time before that growth manifests on the field.