In 1988 the Eagles, coached by Buddy Ryan, drafted Oklahoma tight end Keith Jackson even though Jackson had played in an option offense and caught just 13 passes during his senior season. Jackson ended up being a Pro Bowler as a rookie, and five more times in his NFL career as well.
Jets coach Rex Ryan hopes rookie receiver Stephen Hill can be the same kind of player.
Ryan said on ESPN Radio in New York that he thinks Hill has the athletic makeup to have an instant impact in the NFL, even though he’s coming from an option offense at Georgia Tech in which he caught just 28 passes last season.
“I think, first off, Stephen Hill, the first thing that jumps out at you is obviously the size and speed and everything,” Ryan said, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. “This is a size, speed league. But it’s more than that as well. This guy can play. The numbers, he only had like 28 catches or something like that, but it’s in that option offense. And he did average 29 yards a catch. It kind of reminds me of when my dad took Keith Jackson when he was with the Eagles. I think Keith Jackson only had 19 catches and I think he made the Pro Bowl his first year as a rookie. Hopefully that will happen here with Stephen. He’s got incredible potential for us and we expect him to contribute for sure.”
Jackson was one of the great tight ends in college football history and was considered much more of a can’t-miss draft prospect than Hill is today, but it’s not a bad comparison: Jackson showed that an NFL team can take advantage of a rookie’s talents even if that rookie played in a college offense that failed to take advantage of those talents. The Jets can only hope Hill has the same kind of impact as Jackson.