It's far too early to get on the kid.
Given his size (6-4) and speed, the sky's the limit for Stephen Hill.
The Jets second-round pick can dazzle spectators with his leaping ability and his confidence. And when he makes one of those big-time catches, he often leaves you speechless or shaking your head in disbelief.
But then there are other days where he just leaves you scratching your head.
Like on Tuesday.
Hill had some great catches during the Jets’ “Family Night” practice at MetLife Stadium, including a 45-yard reception on a Tim Tebow pass.
But there were far too many dropsies -- and some of those incompletions came with no coverage during QB passing drills.
During Tebow’s first 11-on-11 series, the quarterback fired a 20-yard pass to Hill down the middle, only to see the ball ricochet off the rookie’s chest/left arm. A short time later, there was miscommunication between Hill and quarterback Mark Sanchez, resulting in a near interception. Hill ran the wrong route as Sanchez threw the ball to a different part of the field. Luckily for the offense, safety Yeremiah Bell made a diving grab but couldn’t come up it. (However, the veteran safety picked off Sanchez later in practice on a ball that was tipped by wide receiver Patrick Turner.) On the next play, Sanchez again zeroed in on Hill – but this time the pass was behind the receiver.
There were more drops by Hill over the course of the early evening practice – including a dropped Tebow pass in the end zone.
Despite Hill's lack of concentration at times, Tony Sparano said on Monday that he’s encouraged by the rookie's progress thus far .
“I’m okay with where he is right now,” the offensive coordinator said of Hill, who was sidelined by a hamstring issue during OTAs and minicamp and also injured his finger during practice last week. “…He (and) Pat Turner, these guys have taken a lot of reps. And he’s benefitting from the amount of reps that he’s getting right now. And I think he’s starting to learn to play with Mark a little bit out there. I think Mark, Tim, both those guys, being in and out of the huddle like that. Mark’s starting to learn his body a little bit. Where he can put the football with him and those types of things.
“So, that’s been really good that way. I think he’s coming along nicely. We’ve done some different things with him inside and outside. Once we start to get some of the troops back here and we start to get a full group out there, we’ll be able to use him a little bit differently.”
The learning curve for any rookie receiver is steep. And miscommunication, mental errors and incompletions are to be expected -- especially less than a month into training camp. But it’s never a good sign when people start to notice of a second-round pick's propensity for drops.