Stephen Hill: How Big A Need Is Wide Receiver For The Steelers?

By Cian Fahey

With the news that Jerricho Cotchery is in St Louis visiting the Rams, Mike Tomlin\’s noteworthy comment on Emmanuel Sanders\’ health and Mike Wallace\’s continued lack of a long-term contract, the Pittsburgh Steelers could value the wide receiver position in this draft more than many anticipate.

The most likely receiver to be available for the Steelers to draft is Stephen Hill out of Georgia Tech, but he is also the best fit.

Hill isn\’t rated the top prospect at the position as Kendall Wright of Baylor, Michael Floyd of Notre Dame and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State University are all certainly above him in most observers\’ eyes. However, he does potentially have the highest potential of the group as part of a Todd Haley offense.

In Arizona, Haley ran the offense which saw Larry Fitzgerald develop into arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Fitzgerald and Hill have some similar qualities as both are big receivers who love to attack the ball down the field.

Hill is the latest in the line of Georgia Tech receivers who are physical freaks but are not polished route runners. The original, Calvin Johnson, dominated the league last year on his way to 96 receptions for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. Hill\’s predecessor, DeMaryius Thomas, is a name haunting the Steelers after he almost single handedly knocked the franchise out of the playoffs last year.

As the latest in that line of receivers, Hill shares similar measurables. While he is not Johnson, 6-5 and over 230 pounds, he is one inch taller than Thomas at 6-4. He is lighter than both players as he only weighs 215 pounds but he has plenty of room to add weight.

Pivotally, Hill will only turn 21 this month. For two reasons that is important for the Steelers. Firstly, as I just mentioned, he can add weight to bulk up and share a similar frame to Johnson and Fitzgerald. However what is most crucial, is that Hill would have plenty of time to develop.

Realistically, the Steelers will only draft Hill if they expect Wallace to move on after this season, something that remains a possibility. In that scenario, Hill would enter this season as the fourth or fifth option while concentrating mostly on developing his route tree and adjusting to the professional game.

Whether the Steelers re-sign Cotchery or bring in another receiver as depth is irrelevant because Hill will be drafted as a future starter if that is indeed the case.

Drafting Hill would say a lot about the prospects of Sanders overcoming his health issues. With a fully healthy Sanders, the team won\’t have any receiver needs moving forward. Sanders is a potential starter along with Antonio Brown, finding complements to them wouldn\’t be any major issue.

Hill wouldn\’t really be the right choice for the short-term, but bringing him in as a long-term development player, which the Steelers are not adverse to doing, will give those watching on outside the organization a significant hint in regards to the futures of Wallace, Sanders and Cotchery.

It may be an unlikely scenario right now, but it is possible that the Steelers could only have one fully healthy and proven receiver on the roster to rely on next year. Calling Brown proven is a bit of a stretch also considering he has only been in the league for two years.

The Steelers need to explore every avenue in this draft because of the position they sit in. Wide receiver certainly could be the route they end up taking.

You can follow Cian on Twitter at @cianaf

  • Cols714

    This seems like another guy they won’t draft. Just doesn’t fit the typical Steelers draft profile.

  • SteelersDepot

    Great analysis!!!!!!! Come on, you can do better than that. Add a who, what, when, where or why.

  • Gevins

    What round are you talking about the Steelers drafting Hill? I have not seen the kid but sounds intriguing.

  • He’s a one.

  • Lekraus

    i can’t think that hill will be there when the steeler’s pick at 24 but if he is then he has to be the guy that the steeler’s take no matter who else is still on the board. i would be very disappointed if they didn’t take him.

  • Jr

    no way the steelers get this guy. i do think he is a big strong WR that ben has been looking for. but no chance. steelers have bigger needs that could be adressed in round 1.

  • Gevins

    I think there are to many other needs. I do not think the Steelers will be able to extend Wallace to a long term contract but they can franchise him next year. So they basically have two years of service from Wallace if they want it. I just think Wallace thinks he is worth way more then he is and the Steelers will not pay that much to keep him. I would take a WR in the draft but not at one. I hope the Steelers resign Cotchery. I would rank needs in the following order: OL, NG, MLB, TE, WR.

  • Jazz6104

    Hmm! This sounds interesting; the last WR they drafted in the 1st round was Santonio Holmes. If Cotchery doesn’t resign, and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion Mike Wallace will be elsewhere in 2013, I could see this happening.

  • Lekraus

    i have something to add to my last post. it seems like a stretch that the steeler’s would take Hill. if they do it would mean that the steeler’s plan on turning Ben loose. i can see a 4 receiver set with Hill Wallace Brown and hopefully Sanders. that set of wideouts would put fear in any Defense. Hill and Wallace would stretch the field and brown and sanders would clean up underneath. with a new Offensive Coordinator and a push to run the ball more taking Hill would show the league that Ben will be throwing the ball all over the field this and next year, so please Steeler Brass show the rest of the league that the steeler’s are the team to fear and take Hill.

  • Lekraus

    i have hopes that the steelers can snag A.J. Jenkins with one of their 7th round picks. the kid is a good receiver and he can be a steel in the 7th round.

  • Joe D

    Will Steelers draft a wr… yes, but NOT in the 1st round..
    1st round – OL
    2nd round – DT
    after that… best player available… ILB, CB, RB, WR, more OL.

  • I like Hill a lot. I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t have the same type of production as Mike Wallace did during his rookie season.

  • Grw1960

    The Steelers will draft or sign a WR and a RB before training camp.
    They need someone to compete and hopefully replace Brown as the primary kick off return man and one to compete for the 3d or 4th WR spot on game day
    An early rounder would only be a consideration if the steelers think they need an upgrade at the # 2 WR spot or to replace Wallace in 2013 if he is not resigned.
    WR Rueben Randle – would be my choice late in round one. But I don’t think any WR will present BPA at pick 24.
    Now CB S. Gilmore might if whoever wants the 2nd CB in Round 1 likes Kirkpatrick better.

  • Nolrog

    I agree with Joe. Holes on the OL and NT are so gaping that they need to look to those first and not strictly BPA, otherwise we’ll go into the season with a disaster for the OL and McLendon as the only NT.

  • Jprankster2005

    What round is he projected to go in?

  • Wdmason

    Bring back Limas Sweed for a tryout LOL

  • Jprankster2005

    I think they need to add a WR but not til 6 or 7th round…… I really am starting to like Fleener as number 24 pick…… Would love to have those options at TE……. But I hope Cotchery comes back……. And this might not go well with alot of fans But I hope after this yr. they say bye to Wallace and sign Brown long term unless he’s willing to take a deal similar to Desean Jackson or Vicent Jackson 5 yr. mid 50 millions is the most I hope they give him he’s not worth anymore in my eyes……

  • If the Steelers wanted to draft a WR in the early (3rd) to mid-round (5th) ranges, I REALLY like Marvin McNutt. He’s a big target with outstanding hands and better speed than given credit for.

  • Jprankster2005

    No thanks, That was one of the best releases they have done over the past 50 yrs lol

  • Jprankster2005

    I wouldn’t take OL in first round OL is very deep in the draft……. I like Ta amu in 2nd or 3rd then address OL 3rd and 5 th rounds ILB in 4th or 5th and then WR and RB 6th to 7th I like FLeener 1st round…… But who knows…… OL is def. a big need as well as NT and another DL and we also need some CB’s and Safties I’m sure we will find a gem or 2 that goes undrafted……

  • Jprankster2005

    I think they need to grab Fleener in 1st
    2nd Ta amu
    3RD Pead
    4th OL
    5th ILB
    6th OL
    7th a WR
    7th b CB
    7th c Safety
    7th d another DL
    and then pick up a couple DL that go undrafted and another CB as well and possibly a QB that’s how I think they should draft…… I really like Wolfe from Cinnci but he’s projected to go in late first round and shouldn’t be drafted in my eyes til late to early 3rd round so if he’s in that area then I would say pick him up………. Just my opinion but we do need to address DL with a few picks as well OL with a few picks and In my opinion we don’t need a ILB as much as people think I think Sylvester will do great with foote but we do need a one to back him up in 2013 so I think we should address it but not with the first to 3rd picks and OL is really deep so we can grab a few good ones mid to late rounds….. I think if we got Fleener 1st round you would see a great increase of offensive production next season….. that’s where they should go in round 1…… Curious to see what others think we should address with the 10 picks…… But we also need a punter and kicker to push Kapinos and suisham and hopefully find one that’s better than Suisham and get him out of here….. But we can sign them undrafted…… and a young Qb is needed to…… I don’t like the idea of bringing leftwich back, But batch would be the backup and then a 7th round or undrafted QB as 3rd or Troy Smith…..

  • Derick

    I think McNutt would be a solid fit to this current WR corps. heard nothing BUT good things from the WR McNutt. good route runner.

  • I don’t like any WR in the first. I would much rather go for McNutt.

  • Mtulenko


  • Jprankster2005

    I can’t wait til draft day and see who they actually do pick up…….. I’m hoping Fleener…….

  • Jec3179

    Dave-recently you talked about Cordy Glenn and how you see him as a Right tackle only i definitely could see glenn playing LG in our scheme..athletic, strong and experienced player coming out of the SEC. If Hightower is off the board at 24 I could see Glenn coming in and filling the LG hole…and this kid has the ability to kick outside in a pinch which is something this team covets.

  • Eric87

    Glenn looked like he could barely move at the combine, let alone be able to pull on run plays. Don’t like Glenn as a Steeler unless Colon swinging in to guard.

  • Ssstp

    Hilton from Florida Int. is a sub 4.4 guy who runs good routes, has good hands can return kicks and is a high character guy…and u can get this guy in the 3rd.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Hilton from Florida Int. runs a sub 4.4…has good hands…runs good routes….can return kicks… and is a good character guy…and u can get this kid in the 3rd…take a look!!!

  • Jordan

    I agree the WR position should be a serious topic.. Mike Wallace, Brown and sanders are all FA next season.. wallace won’t get fitz money (esp from the steelers) brown has another year like last season he’s going to be looking for big bucks… Hines is retired and sanders is injury prone.. I do like TY hilton he can be a sleeper in the later rounds!

  • Wallace isn’t under contract with the Steelers, and he hasn’t signed his tender. Since he isn’t under contract, if Wallace feels that the $2.5M he would receive under a one year contract, under values him, and isn’t worth the injury risk, he doesn’t have to play another down for the Steelers.