The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2013 draft with very few holes on their roster. In fact, top to bottom, they already boasted one of the youngest and deepest rosters in the league. Yet somehow, the rich always get richer. With the offseason acquisitions of Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Tony McDaniel, as well as the ever impactful presence of incumbent starter Brandon Mebane, the Seahawks seemed relatively deep along the defensive line. McDaniel projects as a rotational defensive tackle along with Bennett who will likely kick inside on passing downs. Seattle veteran Brandon Mebane is the rock at the center of it all and boy does he get nasty.
So it was fair to feel pretty comfortable about our defensive line despite the fact we lost Alan Branch in free agency, and may enter the 2013 season without veteran pass rusher Chris Clemons (torn ACL in playoff game at Washington). Enter Jordan Hill. Jordan Hill is a bimble. There is just no other way to put it. For those of you scrambling for your urban dictionary, bimble is a combination of the words "big" and "nimble" and I say it in the most complimentary way when I describe the 6’1" 303 pound defensive tackle. The man can flat out move. Both sideline to sideline and end zone to end zone, Hill wreaks havoc on quarterbacks and ball carriers alike. He spent four years at Penn State playing alongside NFL stars Jared Odrick and Devon Still. His breakout season came as a junior in 2011, when he terrorized opponents earning All Big-Ten honorable mention. His stat line read like a true Penn State stud racking up 8.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.
It was fair to ask, would he hold up as the lone star on the defensive line? Devon Still was drafted in 2012 and Hill saw his opportunity. Then it happened. Jerry Sandusky hit Penn State like a freight train leaving a wake of disbelief and devastation reaching far beyond the Nittany Lions locker room. The story made national headlines prior to Hill’s senior year. Jerry Sandusky, an assistant football coach under the legendary Joe Paterno, was indicted on sexual abuse charges. He was accused (and eventually convicted) of abusing multiple players over several years and using his standing as the assistant coach to persuade those players to keep their mouths shut. The scandal rocked one of college football’s most historic and prominent programs and led to the eventual release of Joe Paterno.
As with most programs, once you remove the leader, the exodus begins. The months following the scandal led to many of the programs recruits transferring from Penn State. Jordan Hill stayed though. He persevered. He took chaos and controversy and channeled his frustrations to the gridiron. It would have been completely understandable for him to fold. Most players probably would have. In fact, some did. Penn State finished the 2012 season at 8-4 under new head coach Bill O’Brien. Although their season was far from being immortalized in Penn State lore, it certainly showed the character of the young players who stayed. Jordan Hill not only endured the tragedies of the season as well as the resulting media backlash, he flourished setting career bests in both tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (4.5).
Hill also notched his only career interception. His non-stop motor and overachieving attitude on the field not only inspired his fellow teammates, it was good enough to land him square on the NFL’s radar. In the 3rd round with the 87th overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks selected Jordan Hill. It’s fair to say his motor and work ethic are what impressed the coaching staff here in Seattle. Though he will certainly have his work cut out for him, it would not be at all surprising to see Hill featured heavily in the defensive tackle rotation, particularly on passing downs.
He will have to add some strength in the weight room to pair with his quick-twitch first step, but the upside is impressive. He is the prototypical "dancing bear" for Seattle’s defensive line and should help provide some push from the interior in his transition from Penn State’s 4-3 defense to Seattle’s 4-3 hybrid. If all goes well, he will help fill the shoes left by the departure of Jason Jones and may be able to spell Red Bryant at the end position from time to time.
Whatever the case, these obstacles surely will be easy for a man who has already overcome so much in his short career. The next chapter of this story should seem far less turbulent but for Hill, the halls of Penn state will no longer be referred to as the scene of the crime, but rather the scene of his triumph.