“He’s had a great attitude from Day One,” 12th-year wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “He just works so hard. He didn’t come in as a guy who felt like he was entitled just because of where he was drafted. He just came in as a guy working on getting better.”
That’s exactly what Hill has done. Head coach Ron Rivera has mentioned on more than one occasion this offseason that Hill could help the Panthers in 2015, and Hill certainly wants to prove him right.
“Right now, it’s just about making the team,” Hill said during an exclusive interview with Panthers.com on the second day of organized team activities. “That’s where my expectations are focused right now – just making the team and getting out there and helping out.”
In Stephen Hill’s first professional game he caught five of six targets for 89 yards and two touchdowns. He now has four career touchdowns. It’s not even worth pulling out the calculator to figure out what percent of his fantasy scoring came in that first game, but it has to be a lot.
I might be the last person in the world to have Hill rostered on a dynasty team, which likely won’t be the case anymore when I have to cut my roster back down for the season. I think I got Hill in a trade where I gave up a future 4th round pick, a transaction that took place after he was cut from the Jets. I don’t have very much invested even though my team was bad enough that Hill stuck on my roster even when he wasn’t on the Carolina roster.
But now Carolina has also drafted Devin Funchess. So even if Hill has massively improved, and then he makes the roster, and then he plays in three wide receiver sets… it’s still really unlikely that anyone would even notice any production that he would accumulate. To put it another way, there’s a long line of conditional probabilities sitting between here and the day that you might feel like Hill is worth taking a flier on. But because I’m an eternal optimist, unwilling to delete my Google alerts for even the most lost of causes, I’ll still pay attention to Hill.
Some Panthers fans are optimistic because WR coach Ricky Proehl is considered something of a WR guru. I have no idea whether that’s the case or not. However, I do know that if the Panthers somehow rehabilitated Hill they could roll out a WR trio consisting of Kelvin Benjamin (6-5), Funchess (6-4), and Hill (6-4). Actually if you look at that list you would have to conclude that Carolina actually does consider Proehl to be a guru at teaching the WR position. All of the receivers are somewhat known for their bad hands and raw technical skills.
As I was writing this post it occurred to me that if you’re intrigued by the WR group that Carolina could have then the thing to do would actually be to avoid them all and acquire Cam Newton. I’ve said before that I think it will be tough for Benjamin to repeat his rookie season unless he becomes quite a bit more efficient. But at the same time there might not be enough targets for Funchess to be fantasy relevant any time soon. You can avoid the headache altogether and also get Newton’s rushing yards by targeting him instead. In a season where he didn’t appear in two games, and then was hobbled in a handful of other games, Newton still accumulated over 500 rushing yards. In 2015 he’ll be coming back healthier, with slightly upgraded receiving options, and Benjamin entering his second season. Barring injury, it seems like Newton’s prospects have to be looking up.