Tyreek Hill has gone from mid-round pick gadget player to legitimate number one receiver during his two seasons in Kansas City. The third-year pro will have a new quarterback this year as Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins as Andy Reid decided to usher in the Patrick Mahomes era. With a new signal caller who embraces a different style of play, Hill could top the receiving yard statistics at the end of the campaign.
In 2017 the former fifth-round pick caught 75 balls for 1,183 yards. That was enough to finish in the top ten, but he was still 350 yards short of Antonio Brown who topped the standings. Brown also played one game less but did catch 26 more passes.
With Hill’s reputation as a legitimate primary pass catcher growing there are chances that he will see an increase from his 105 targets. Although Mahomes has a lot of mouths to feed in that Chiefs offense. The arrival of Sammy Watkins could eat into Hill’s production and Travis Kelce will get his fair share of the workload, too.
An area which Reid and offensive coordinator Brett Veach must improve on is working Hill in when inside the red zone. The 24-year-old only managed one catch when inside the opposition 20. Standing at 5”10, the KC wide out is not the most imposing figure, but as modern offenses have shown there are ways to get smaller receivers involved in the red zone. Using Hill closer to the goal line would add an extra dimension to the offense. Reid is one of the more creative play designers in the NFL, he will be able to find a way to use the West Alabama product when deep in the opposition half.
Former quarterback Alex Smith garnered a slightly unfair reputation for not stretching the field. Throughout the first half of the season the now Redskins QB stretched defenses vertically, Hill often the beneficiary of that. However, once the Chiefs went into a mid-season slide Smith went back to the dink-and-dunk offense, often failing to look at a wide-open Hill.
Mahomes has a much livelier arm and will be willing to test the secondary deep more often, creating more opportunities for his speedy receiver to take advantage of. Hill had 15 catches that went for more than 20 yards and nine grabs that went longer than 40 yards. If he is going to bridge the gap in receiving yards and push the 1,400 mark, then his best chance of doing so will be on the deep ball.
There could be a slight regression from Brown in Pittsburgh. Not to doubt the Steelers superstar, but his total of 1,533 yards was a staggering achievement. It is plausible that he could come back to the pack a little. In 2017 Brown had six games where he had 10 or more receptions. His targets and catches could be eaten into as sophomore pass catcher JuJu Smtih-Schuster impressed mightily during his rookie campaign.
If Mahomes can have outings where he puts the ball in Hill’s hands ten times a game, then it will bolster his chances of taking the receiving yards crown and should also improve their chances of putting points on the board. As showcased against the Dallas Cowboys in week nine, Hill is a threat to take any catch to the house. Last term, whenever he had more than five catches (four times) he had over 100 receiving yards. If Reid can draw up a few more plays to go the way of the Florida native, then he could put up ungodly numbers.
Competition will be fierce for who earns the crown of 2018 receiving yards leader. Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Keenan Allen, to name but three, will all be jostling with Brown to top that metric. Hill had fewer grabs that all of the aforementioned, but he has since enhanced his reputation and could have more balls thrown his way.
I’m calling it now. Tyreek Hill will reach the 1,400-yard mark – exceed it even – and that will be enough to crown him the king of wide receivers in 2018.
Photo credit: chiefs.com