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There’s a wide receiver creeping into the back of the first round in mock drafts, right around where Baltimore picks at No. 29.
And he’s caught the Ravens’ eye.
It’s Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill, the player who took the NFL Scouting Combine by storm a month ago.
Hill ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at the combine, tied for the fastest time among all players. To a degree, Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz anticipated Hill would be a combine freak just from watching his film. He looked fast.
So it was more than the 40-yard dash or the 39.5-inch vertical leap that stood out to Hortiz.
The 6-foot-4 Hill didn’t enter the combine getting much attention because he played in a triple-option offense and thus didn’t see the ball come his way too often. He was a second-, or maybe mid-round prospect.
It’s not surprising considering many people came away from the combine talking about Hill’s measured athleticism. Combine that with his 6-foot-4 frame and he has the potential to be a matchup nightmare.
Despite catching just 28 passes in his final year as a junior, Hill still churned out 820 yards. That’s a whopping 29.3 yards per reception. He scored five touchdowns.
But the question is whether Hill can do much more than get vertical.
“Like any guy who comes from a run-oriented offense, he’s going to have some developing to do at the wideout position,” Hortiz said.
The knock is that he has a limited route tree, similar to what pundits said about Georgia Tech alumnus Demaryius Thomas, who was taken by Denver 22nd overall in 2010. ProFootballWeekly says Hill isn’t a refined route runner and benefitted from single coverage.
There isn’t a ton of tape on Hill because he was thrown to so little. He caught just 15 passes as a sophomore and six as a freshman. Since he was a junior, he couldn’t participate in the Senior Bowl to gain additional exposure.
So how do teams get comfortable enough to take Hill?
“I think what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to look at the film that’s provided,” Hortiz said. “Then you look at the combine and his performance there, running routes, how he catches the ball. He’s probably going to have a lot of private workouts and his pro day that [we had] scouts down to. You take the whole thing together and get him on a spot on the board.”