Will Hill is trying to convince the Giants he can play. Actually, the fact he’s talented has long been known, but his off-field issues kept him from making the NFL already.
As with many players with troubled pasts, Hill’s tale of redemption makes for a good story, and Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger has written an excellent one, detailing Hill’s checkered past and his attempt to put it behind him.
The former Florida safety scared teams off during the pre-draft process because of his general immaturity, but specifics which included a suspension at Florida, a series of Twitter posts talking about marijuana and prostitutes, a shady cast of friends he surrounded himself with and a run of bad interviews with teams he was supposedly trying to impress.
So he went undrafted. And unsigned after the draft. And largely ignored for a year, never even getting a practice-squad job. Per Garafolo’s story, that seemed to humble Hill into making changes off the field. And after he impressed in a May tryout, the Giants are going to give him a chance in training camp.
And he may have landed in the perfect place for such a chance.
The Giants have shown an impressive ability to channel problem children, by putting them in a structured environment and surrounding them with more responsible teammates.
From Mario Manningham to Ahmad Bradshaw, they’ve taken chances on players others blanched at, and gotten positive results. That’s emboldened them to try with a few more, including third-round pick Jayron Hosley, who failed a drug test at the Combine and several others such as Hill who had their issues in college.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese said all were warned they’d be cut at the first indication of trouble, and admits he can’t know at the moment if players such as Hill are genuinely reformed.
“Well, I don’t know if he’s telling the truth. But I do know he’s felt the sting of not being on an NFL roster when he probably should be on one, as talented as he is,” Reese said. “The sting of not having that and having to sit out and not being able to play, I think that helps you get your priorities straight.”
It also helps to land with a stable organization. While the Lions have rebounded in part by being willing to take on some questionable characters who can play, the long-term future of such a roster is unknown.
The Giants have a recent record of success, and a strong organization from Reese to coach Tom Coughlin, and that goes a long way toward being able to take chances, and mitigate the risks therein. But Reese isn’t just playing Father Flanagan. He wants good players.
And if Hill can be one, great. But if he screws up, he can be made example of, and that helps too.