“Cheetah” has earned a reputation for being a burner on the football field, using his speed to blow past defenders and benefiting from it on the stat sheet thanks to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL that can throw to Hill in-stride 50 yards down the field.
But when you start trying to make a case that there are other pass-catchers in the league that are bigger “deep threats” than Hill, the argument, specifically in Chiefs Kingdom, becomes a tough sell. However, one NFL analyst tried to justify why not just one, but four NFL receivers are better deep threats than Hill.
ALL the latest Chiefs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Chiefs newsletter here!
Top-10 NFL Deep Threats: Hill Ranked No. 4
NFL.com writer Nick Shook ranked the top-10 deep threats in the NFL through three weeks of the 2021 regular season. While it seems to be a little premature to be making a list like that given that there are still 14 weeks of regular season play left, Shook nevertheless made his case. The top player on his list is Seattle Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett, followed by Cincinnati Bengals’ J’Marr Chase, Houston Texans’ Brandin Cooks, and Philadelphia Eagles’ Quez Watkins. It is not until No. 5 on the list that we find Hill’s name finally mentioned.
Here is what Shook had to say about the three-time All-Pro receiver:
“You don’t get the nickname Cheetah by being average in any area. Hill, as we all know by this point, is far from average. The Chiefs speedster is tops among all players in deep receiving touchdowns since 2016 with 27, leading the next-closest pass catcher by five deep touchdowns,” he wrote.
“He continues to push the limits of player tracking, reaching 20-plus mph on four touches in 2021 — twice as many instances as the next-closest wide receiver. Statistically, he’s on par with where he was around this time last year, catching three deep targets for 125 yards and a game-changing touchdown in Kansas City’s Week 1 win over Cleveland. The Chiefs’ high-flying offense simply wouldn’t be as dynamic if Kansas City didn’t have Hill, who will likely own a spot on this list for the majority of his career.”
What to Make of Hill’s Ranking
Shook had nothing bad to say about Hill’s 2021 production thus far. However, he chose to place Hill below a player like Philadelphia’s Watkins, who has just seven catches on the season and 14 in his two-year career. Granted, Watkins is averaging 26.6 yards per reception this season, per Pro Football Reference. But an extremely small sample size has led to that inflated average.
Making a case that Lockett, Chase, and Cooks should be ranked ahead of Hill on the list — although, once again, it’s only through three games — is understandable given how productive those three receivers have been as deep threats and as their respective team’s primary option in the passing game. Hill was dominant during the Chiefs’ regular-season opener against the Cleveland Browns, catching 11 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown. However, he caught only eight passes for 70 yards combined over the past two games. But to rank a player like Watkins, whose small workload has led to skewed numbers this season, ahead of Hill is just flat wrong.
With plenty of season left to go, Hill will likely prove his ranking in the top-10 list as an anomaly by the end of the year.