When Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill decided in January to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft, it would have been easy to label it a mistake: Hill caught just 49 passes in his college career while playing in an option offense that barely used the wide receivers at all.
In fact, the NFL draft advisory board told him it was a mistake: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the NFL draft advisory board told Hill he had no chance to be selected in the first three rounds. The board is made up of personnel people who know how NFL teams view college players, and for the most part they do a pretty good job of letting players know whether they’re viewed as first-round picks, or middle-round picks, or late-round picks, or if they’re unlikely to be drafted at all.
But what the board can’t do is predict how a player is going to perform at the Scouting Combine, and when Hill put on a show as the most impressive receiver in Indianapolis, that had personnel people who had previously not paid a lot of attention to Hill going back and looking at more film, and what they saw is that Hill only caught 28 passes last season, but he averaged a whopping 29.3 yards a catch. And they saw that while it’s true that the Georgia Tech receivers don’t get a lot of passes thrown their way, when they are running pass routes they’re doing the same things that NFL receivers do. That’s what Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said in defending Hill as a pro prospect, and that’s what Georgia Tech receivers coach Buzz Preston says.
“It kills me when they say NFL routes,” Preston said. “I look at the NFL and they’re not doing anything that we aren’t doing. They’re doing the out cut. They’re doing the oval route. They’re doing the drag. I mean, doubles moves – we do all that. It’s always funny how people talk about the NFL passing game. . . . I’m confident the young man can run any route they want him to run in the NFL.”
And Hill was confident — despite what the draft advisory board told him — that he was going to be a high draft pick. Tonight he can prove the NFL draft advisory board wrong.