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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Austin Hill still hunts for a roster spot

Bill+Mason%2C+Cat+Tran+Driver%0A%0A%28Brown+hair%29%0A%0ADennis+Cady%2C+Cat+Tran+Driver%0A%0A%28black+and+white+striped+shirt%29%0A%0AAJ+Dowgiert%2C+Cat+Tran+Driver%0A%0A%28Plaid%2FCheckered+Shirt%29
Tyler Baker
Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

Despite winning the Pac-12 Conference South, which was arguably the toughest division in college football last season, and playing in a Fiesta Bowl, the Arizona Wildcats do not have a single player on an NFL roster from the 2014 team. This includes 2012 All-Pac-12 second team wide receiver Austin Hill.

Hill went undrafted and agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks. Just before reporting to rookie minicamp, he was unable to pass the team’s physical test due to a knee injury. 

Hill made a quick transition as the free agent wide receiver had a short stint with the Oakland Raiders. He was set to complement Oakland’s first round draft pick, Amari Cooper, and emerge as another potential target for Derek Carr. Oakland would eventually cut Hill, making him just another free agent looking for a team to throw him a bone. 

Before recovering from an ACL injury Hill suffered from the 2013 spring game, he was considered to be a top-100 player in college football after posting 81 catches for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns during the 2012 campaign. Even though his injury has depleted some of his speed and acceleration, his toughness and physicality could be a solid addition to any NFL team that needs depth at the receiver position.

Hill may not be an immediate contributor, but he could develop into a productive third or fourth receiver given the time and opportunity. If put in the right system, he could potentially have the same impact Riley Cooper had with the Philadelphia Eagles, which entails becoming a blocking and trustworthy receiver.

Even though Hill’s stat-sheet of 49 catches for 635 yards and 4 touchdowns may seem modest, he was a part of a receiving core that contained eight different wide receivers that scored touchdowns, so his numbers might not be the best way to view his productivity last year.

Although Seattle cut Hill, he would be a solid addition to their team as they have already gotten significant production from Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, two receivers who were also undrafted free agents from Pac-12 schools. Kearse is in a contract year, so they could possibly bring in Hill as a cheap replacement and move Baldwin to the slot where he flashed productivity. With the addition of tight end Jimmy Graham, along with the playmaking abilities of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, Hill could be a complementary piece to an offense predicated on the run.

Another team Hill could succeed on would be the New England Patriots, considering their history for getting offensive production with players that were not highly sought out. He could be solid in the screen game for receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman, as well as playing on the outside or the slot on offense. Hill would bring size to the Patriots, as none of their receivers are taller than an average point guard in basketball, and he could be used as a security blanket during Tom Brady’s suspension.

The Eagles are also a potential resort for him as he is a big receiver whom head coach Chip Kelly admires. He already turned former Wildcat quarterback Nick Foles into a Pro Bowler and he currently has over 20 Pac-12 players on his roster, so why not test out the system since the Eagles don’t need stars like DeSean Jackson or LeSean McCoy.

All is not lost for Hill, as a handful of wide receivers have gone undrafted in the NFL only to later make their mark on the league. Victor Cruz and Miles Austin have each reached the Pro Bowl and Wes Welker makes a case for the greatest slot receiver of all time.

Hill has the physical tools and frame to play in the league. These cuts will only serve as minor setbacks for Hill on the way to a successful career in the NFL.

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