Head over Heels for Jordan Hill

Matthew Holst

How Jordan Hill matches up with other top DT draftees and how he fits in on the Seahawks.

Jordan Hill was one of the best pass rushing DTs in this year's draft. He had 4.5 sacks in 2012, which was more than a lot of the players drafted before him - Sheldon Richardson, Sharrif Floyd, Johnathan Hankins and Bennie Logan, to name a few. These players played in different defensive schemes and against different levels of competition so there are flaws when judging prospects on just stats alone, obviously. Stats are a measurement of production, though, and they do tell something about a player. So what do the stats say about Hill?

Hill had 64 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss last season at Penn St. The eight DTs drafted before him averaged 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 9 tackles for a loss last season. Hill is significantly above average in total tackles, and almost right on the average for sacks and tackles for a loss. The reason why Hill got so many more total tackles than the other top prospects is because he got a lot more assisted tackles than the average. In 2012, the eight DTs drafted before Hill averaged 24 assisted tackles. Hill, on the other hand, had 35 assisted tackles. The only player that had more assisted tackles was Sheldon Richardson, the 1st DT drafted. Speaking of Richardson, Hill's statistics are actually comparable to his. Table time!

Player

Solo Tackles

Assisted Tackles

Total Tackles

Sacks

TFL

Sheldon Richardson

39

36

75

4

10.5

Jordan Hill

29

35

64

4.5

8.5

Richardson's stats are obviously better but for a 3rd round pick to even be able to be statistically compared to the 1st player drafted at their position is something that Seahawks fans can get excited about.

Seahawks' fans can also get excited about that Hill's stats are better than Geno Atkins' 2009 Georgia stats. Table time!

Player

Solo Tackles

Assisted Tackles

Total Tackles

Sacks

TFL

Geno Atkins

22

14

36

3

10.5

Jordan Hill

29

35

64

4.5

8.5

Atkins was a 4th round pick who became an All-Pro DT. Atkins is an anomaly for how good mid-round DTs prospects become in the NFL, but at least there is precedence. Hill could become the next Atkins but he could also be out of the NFL in 3 years. This uncertainty is what makes rookies, and the NFL Draft in general, so exciting.

Perhaps the person who knows the most about how good Hill can become is John Schneider. Schneider said one of the things that he most he likes about Hill is that he plays with a motor that is always running. This phrase is now a cliché way to describe Defensive Linemen but that is only because it is one of the best traits a Defensive Lineman could have.

Terms like "blazing speed" to describe WRs and "rocket arm" to describe QBs are also clichés, but who wouldn't want a WR with blazing speed and a QB with a rocket arm? Same thing goes for Defensive Linemen; one of the best things that they can be is a fat boy who isn't afraid of getting tired. Hill plays like someone who isn't afraid of getting tired, and that shows up with all of those assisted tackles.

So if Hill is this high motor and highly productive DT, why did he last until the late 3rd round? The knock on Hill was that he was soft against the run, coupled with a knee sprain in 2012. Negative scouting reports like this work out perfectly for the Seahawks because PCJS don't focus on what players can't do, but what they can do. One thing that Hill can do is rush the passer and that is going to be his primary role for the Seahawks.

The Seahawks like to do major substitutions along the Defensive Line on 3rd down. Last year, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, and Alan Branch would shut down the run on 1st and 2nd down, and then be replaced by Bruce Irvin, Clinton McDonald and Jason Jones, who would collectively rush the passer on 3rd down. This year Bryant, Mebane and newcomer Tony McDaniel (or maybe Jesse Williams) will be the run stuffers on 1st and 2nd down, and then Irvin, Michael Bennett and Jordan Hill will join Cliff Avril on 3rd down to get after the QB. Hill will face competition from Greg Scruggs, Clint McDonald and Jaye Howard for the interior pass specialist job, but he has a good chance of winning it in training camp and contributing immediately as a rookie.

Though interior pass rush specialist is Hill's most likely rookie year position, this hasn't been predetermined heading into training camp. He is going to get an opportunity to compete for the vacant starting three technique DT position that was formerly occupied by Branch. If Hill is able to anchor against the run, he has a shot at being a 'three-down' type of DT. McDaniel, Williams, Scruggs and Howard are all going to be competing for that spot as well so even though Hill has a shot at being the starter, it is far from a guaranteed thing.

Hill is not only reserved to the three technique DT position but can be a viable option to back up Mebane at the nose as well. McDonald was Mebane's back up last year and did nothing to prevent the Seahawks' from drafting two DTs this year over concerns about depth (plus McDonald is entering the final year of club control). Hill can play the nose in the Seahawks' scheme because his quickness will allow him to penetrate and control the A gaps. Hill isn't the boulder in the middle that Mebane is and if he was forced to replace Mebane full time due to injury the run defense would undoubtedly worsen. However, he adds value as a potential Mebane backup.

At the very least, Hill is a talented player to add to a solid defensive line group. He provides depth at both the DT positions and has the natural pass rush ability that could make him a force when the Seahawks use their pass defense sub-packages. His endless motor and desire to be in on every tackle will fit right in on a defense that prides itself in gang tackling. This is an exciting prospect that has the potential to terrorize opposing QBs, bolster the Seahawks' pass rush and improve an already dominant defense.

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