One trend that has appeared more often than not in recent drafts is that if you have speed, you'll most likely get drafted early. In some cases, players make go up to two rounds ahead of where they were originally projected solely based upon the fact that they ran a fantastic 40-yard dash or they were a track star. This trend certainly bodes well for Clemson cornerback Tye Hill. Hill, who is considered by some to be the best corner in the class, could be taken as a top-15 pick when it is all said and done.
At Woodland High School in South Carolina, Hill not only dominated on the gridiron but on the track as well. As a junior, he was named the "Track Athlete of the Year" by the High School Sports Report while becoming the state champion in the 100-meter dash (10.51 seconds). As a senior running back, Hill ran for 1,445 yards and 16 scores in seven games. After being heavily scouted by other big schools such as Auburn and North Carolina, Hill decided to become a Clemson Tiger, and he did not disappoint.
Beginning his collegiate career as a running back, Hill red-shirted during his first year in 2001. In 2002 he became the team's third-leading rusher (225 yards) as a freshman. Hill moved to cornerback in 2003 and started in 11 games. In those games, Hill made and astounding 34 solo tackles and nine pass deflections on his way to being named the "Defensive Rookie of the Year" by the Clemson coaching staff.
In 2004, Hill tied the Clemson record for pass defenses with 21 while proving to be a leader in the Tigers secondary. He recorded at least two tackles in every game and played in 95 percent of the team's defensive snaps. Last season, Hill finished with 42.5 tackles, four passes defended and three interceptions in his season where football was his only sport.
At the NFL Combine, Hill wowed scouts with a time of 4.30 in the 40-yard dash, which was the fastest of any prospect. He has fluid hips and can stop on a dime, which allows him to turn around to keep up with any receiver.
While he isn't the biggest corner, he isn't afraid to throw his body around and will stick it to the run when he has to. His lack of height is made up for with his leaping ability, which is also superior to almost anyone at his position. Hill also has a nose for the ball and is always around the action. What is perhaps the most intriguing thing about Hill, though, is his upside; because he is still improving (he was named Clemson's Most Improved Player in 2003 and in 2004).
Despite having good bulk, Hill stands at just 5-foot-10, and that may hurt his stock. His hands and ball skills are questionable; sometimes he may drop the easy ones. Hill probably doesn't fit the bill as a "Cover 2 cornerback", which means teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills probably won't be drafting him.
He has the will to defend the run, but his body may not allow him to, and he struggles in zone coverage. Although he has not had any injury problems in the past, his size will also make that a recurring thought in teams' minds before they draft him.
At this point, Hill is fighting for the top cornerback spot with Virginia Tech defensive back Jimmy F. Williams, whose attitude and lack of a true position may drop him in the draft. Last season, players with speed shot up draft boards and were drafted far earlier than most people predicted (Oakland Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington and Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams being the prime examples). Could the same happen for Hill?
While some see Hill dropping down into the lower half of Round 1, and others see him as a candidate to go to the St. Louis Rams with the 11th pick, we see him as somewhere in between. The most likely scenario for the former Tiger is with the Miami Dolphins with their first pick at No. 16, that is if they can't get their hands on one of the top wideouts. Another likely landing spot is with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are in desperate need of a franchise cornerback.
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About Francis Duffy
"Fran Duffy has been involved in sports since he was a child. A Philadelphia native, Fran is obviously a die-hard fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers. Fran is desperately waiting to see his first major championship from one of his hometown teams. He is a Broadcasting major at Temple University and has experience on the radio as well as in television production. Fran also currently works with Temple football's video-operation's team and is an avid fantasy sports player. Looking for more experience in writing, Fran joined KFFL in the spring of 2005."
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