Patriots Love Combine Underachieving WR, Could Replace Julian Edelman: Report

Getty PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 16: K.J. Hill #14 of the Ohio State Buckeyes carries the ball in the first quarter against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New England Patriots assistant and former standout wide receiver Troy Brown met extensively with Ohio State receiver K.J. Hill at the NFL Combine, per a report from Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald.

Despite an ordinary showing at the Combine, there appears to be interest from the team.

Hill’s Combine Numbers

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 196 lbs
  • Arms: 29 1/8
  • Hands: 9 1/4
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.6
  • Vertical Jump: 32.5″

Those numbers won’t jump out at anyone, but Hill excels at aspects of the game that translate well to an NFL field, especially when playing in the slot. He has what some have described as the best hands in the draft. He also possesses the innate ability to create separation immediately at or near the line of scrimmage.

His skill set is very similar to the Patriots’ current top receiver.

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Could Hill Make Julian Edelman Expendable?

FOXBOROUGH, MA – DECEMBER 23: Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots dives for the end zone to score a 32-yard receiving touchdown during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Callahan says Hill should be considered a potential successor for Julian Edelman. Callahan wrote:

Of all Julian Edelman’s likely successors in this year’s draft, Hill ranks near — if not at — the top of the list. Hill might be the most sure-handed wideout in the entire draft. He’s a route-running technician, who’s weaponized his quickness to win off the line of scrimmage and on his first move. Best of all, he’s a natural receiver in just about every sense.

That’s a pretty lofty expectation, but there is merit to this take. Ohio State’s offense has some similarities to the Patriots’ attack, and that likely explains why Brown wasted no time discussing Xs and Os with Hill.

Mainly, we were talking about plays (at the combine),” Hill said of his conversation with Brown. “I did a lot of similar things (to) their offense, and they were just trying to pick my brain about what we did. And come to find out, it was mostly the same plays. Motioning, seeing if it was man or zone, using option routes — definitely what Edelman was doing. I was talking to the receivers coach about that. He (Brown) said what’s up, he loved my game, and then we went right into it. We went right into asking me about coverages, plays, what I think about something on the field or things like that in that aspect.

It’s hard to imagine Brown not coming away from this meeting impressed and offering his own endorsement for Hill to Bill Belichick and others. Edelman is going to turn 34 before the 2020 season begins, and he battled injuries through the 2019 season–despite playing in all 16 games and the postseason loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Edelman is clearly on the downside of his career, and it’s time for the Patriots to find someone who can occupy his role when his production declines, or he is moved.

Where Would the Patriots Likely Draft Hill?

Hill projects as a third or fourth-round pick. The Patriots have three selections in the third round, so unless someone loves Hill and drafts him in the second round, he should be available to New England.

The team has several holes, and a lot of picks, so there is no guarantee they’ll select him. However, Hill looks and feels like one of the next Patriot diamonds in the rough.

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