Something that we’ve had the opportunity to watch in Kansas City has been the development of Tyreek Hill. Like Hill himself, it has been lightning fast.
Hill went from a speedy rookie returner in 2016 to (gulp) a gadget player to truly one of the NFL’s elite receivers by 2017’s end. Only six players in the league had more receiving yards than Hill in 2017.
NFL RECEIVING YARDS
Antonio Brown (1,533)
Julio Jones (1,444)
Keenan Allen (1,393)
DeAndre Hopkins (1,378)
Adam Thielen (1,276)
Michael Thomas (1,245)
Tyreek Hill (1,183)
One of those players on the list, the Chargers’ Keenan Allen, was asked about Hill by Chiefs.com’s Matt McMullen at the Pro Bowl in Orlando this week.
“I’ve really seen him develop,” Allen said. “I always thought he was a fast guy – a great returner that could take it to the house – but now he’s really evolving into a No. 1 receiver. The more he can develop and work on his routes, he’ll be unstoppable.”
While I know it’s Pro Bowl week (essentially a vacation for the players) and they are going to be nicer with their words than usual—I can particularly recall Allen being not so nice about another Chief—one word jumped out to me in this quote.
I knew I’d heard it regarding Hill before, so I went back to the archive, and yes, as it turned out, Andy Reid was asked about what Hill still had to work on back in mid-December.
“I would tell you, just consistent route running,” Reid said. “He’s going to continue to work on that. It’s something he’s worked really hard at and has gotten very good at, but he can take it up even another notch there.
“It’s a matter of getting through that first year. Seeing all the different defenses, the secondary, looks that you’re going to get and have an opportunity to work those routes against those coverages.”
Allen mentioned it. Reid mentioned it. Then, a frequent foe of Hill’s, Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, mentioned it.
“[Hill] is actually one of the scarier receivers to go against because he has that speed factor,” Talib said this week. “ If you don’t have the speed, DBs don’t really fear you. He has that speed, so once he gets his routes all the way up to par, he’s going to be a big deal in this league.”
Once he gets his routes all the way up to par. This is already the No. 7 receiver in the NFL!
And now, I give you the payoff. What does Hill intend to work on all offseason?
“I would say my dedication to route running,” he explained in December. “I feel like I tend to sometimes try to depend on my speed too much and rely on my speed to beat corners when instead it’s all about technique and fundamentals. That’s what I’m going to work on this whole offseason.
“Coach Reid, [Greg Lewis] and those guys do a great job of telling me and teaching me the small things on how to reach the next level on how to be a great receiver. So I’m going to continue to work, continue to learn from the other receivers in the room and keep improving.”
Hill proved that he is a team’s No. 1 receiver with his play this year.
If he comes back with a completely refined route tree, maybe that notion will extend to the league.