Simply saying who is the best at any position is a tall task. Using things like tiers, for example, are likely a better course of action. But after last Sunday’s performance, we ask the question of who is the NFL’s best wide receiver. Tyreek Hill has long been considered as one of the top guys. However, others like Julio Jones and Michael Thomas, and more recently DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams, have been considered the best.
While those absolute studs garner plenty of respect from defenses, and deservedly so, none may be as complete of a player as Hill is right now. Plenty of people only acknowledge the explosive speed of his game. For those that truly watch the Chiefs offense and Hill’s game, you know that is not his only attribute that makes him dangerous. Today, we will dive deeper into Tyreek Hill as an overall player, and how he may be in a league of his own in Kansas City.
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Entering the league, Tyreek Hill was seen more as a gadget type of player. Even Jalen Ramsey promptly labeled him as a “return specialist.” When he first started to see reps in Andy Reid‘s offense, we mostly saw him make catches on quick screens from Alex Smith. Elsewhere, Hill was most dangerous when returning punts and kicks.
Under the tutelage of Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers coach Greg Lewis, Hill has continued to improve as a more crisp route runner. His hands are more natural now, as well, having rarely dropped any passes. The drop percentage has improved for him in each of the last three seasons. Tyreek has also been winning at an equal rate in the short to intermediate game, just as much as deep down the field.
Overall, the thing that has made Hill so good, is how he sets himself for big plays during pre-snap. Just look at the game from Sunday against Tampa Bay. Carlton Davis was put on an island against Hill multiple times. Even on his third touchdown catch, Davis covered him pretty tightly. It was Hill’s ability to find any kind of separation to win the rep. The way he finds those slight openings with his releases or body positioning can be seen as diminutive. However, those aspects have also continued to ascend for Hill as a player.
Just watch how Hill’s separation and more have led to big plays: https://twitter.com/RealMNchiefsfan/status/945772907111899140
More Than Just Speed
We already touched on a few of those other aspects of Tyreek Hill than just his speed. But, let’s continue to look at how often he wins with other tools. One thing that sticks out in particular, is the high point game. Sure Hopkins and Thomas can do that too. Nonetheless, Hill has an unexplainable ability to outleap anyone. For a player who does not have the build of other receivers, this is impressive. It also goes unnoticed at times for the Chiefs offense, given their strengths.
This was evidenced last season: https://twitter.com/TommySledge/status/1183431560684544000
We also see just how reliable Hill is in contested, one on one situations. As Patrick Mahomes said after Sunday’s game, “I’ll take my guys versus anybody. It’s as simple as that.” Mahomes understands how much security he has when throwing Hill’s way. We mentioned the lower drop percentage already. It’s not just about him holding on to the ball, while withstanding potential hits. It’s also somewhat comical to watch defenders attempt to play him in contested spots. DBs struggle with whether or not they should play the football or watch his hands/eyes. Having that ability of putting fear in those opponents goes a long way in helping him win those reps.
It is funny to see how NFL teams have tried to build with speed wide receivers. Benjamin Solak of The Draft Network referenced some of this recently with teams over drafting receivers, simply because of that trait. Take the 40 yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine for example. In 2019, a wide receiver like Parris Campbell ran a 4.31 40 yard dash. This considerably increased his draft stock. And his profile was focused on that of speed being his best trait. In that same year, Terry McLaurin ran a fine 40 yard dash, at 4.35 seconds. For some reason though, McLaurin went much later than Campbell. But why? Because most NFL GMs are focused on the speed factor. McLaurin has already impressed in a year and a half. His numbers jump out more. And he has been much more healthy.
In that same breath, we look at Tyreek Hill having a fine history of remaining health. Besides being reliable on the field, you can trust that he will gut through anything to be on it. As they say, availability is one of the more important traits that a player can possess. Just like Hill and McLaurin, wide receivers like them are much more dangerous, because they can win in multiple areas.
Others that are simply just labeled as speedsters, have failed to remain healthy. Or they have failed to achieve any sustained success at the NFL level. Look at some of the recent first round picks that fit that category. John Ross, 9th overall 2017, Will Fuller, 21st overall 2016, Breshad Perriman, 26th overall 2015, Phillip Dorsett, 29th overall 2015. Even more recent guys like Marquise Brown or Henry Ruggs III have struggled to find clear roles. There is not as clear of a path for these type of guys, as most would think or anticipate.
Above all, saying Tyreek Hill only wins with speed is laughable and flat out wrong. It takes much more than that, both before and after the catch.
You can call him the Cheetah. However, it may be more apropos to currently call him the league’s top wide receiver.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.