Addition of S Will Hill a Shrewd Move

Will Hill
Will Hill at Ravens Training Camp (Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun)

Entering training camp, the Baltimore Ravens had a pretty steady and favorable roster, save one aspect.

The secondary as a whole was never a bright spot entering the 2014 season, with lack of depth an issue at both safety positions, as well as at cornerback, after Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb.

One player who was expected to aid the depth issue and step in as a contributor with hopes of filling Corey Graham’s void at nickel cornerback was veteran Aaron Ross, who never even practiced in pads with the team before suffering a season-ending achilles injury.

Losing Ross – a player who had an inside track to a roster spot – hurt, and it made Baltimore’s secondary just a bit more concerning, as if it wasn’t concerning enough.

If the Ravens had followed conventional wisdom they would have added another veteran cornerback to the roster to help bolster a unit severely defunct of quality depth.

But they didn’t.

Instead the Ravens signed a safety who has been suspended more times (three) than the amount of NFL seasons he has played (two).

Enter Will Hill.

On the surface, this could be viewed as a head-scratching move.

The Ravens, with all of their off-field issues, don’t make themselves look any better by adding a notorious drug user.

That said, Hill can bring that value to the team.

Signing a safety to replace Ross’ roster spot may not have been the ideal move, but Baltimore’s depth at safety was just as bad, arguably worse, before Hill was signed.

Suspended for the first six games of the regular season, Hill can practice with the team through the preseason, as well as play in each preseason game.

Then, assuming he proves himself enough during August, the Ravens will move on without him for six games, before potentially bringing him back as a depth/impact option during the second half of the season.

If Hill does eventually play for the Ravens during the regular season, what can he bring to the defense?

Had Hill been able to stay clean with the New York Giants – the team he played his first two NFL seasons with – he’d be entering the 2014 season as a player with the potential to become one of the better young free safeties in the league.

Still only 24, Hill joins the Ravens having played 24 games including 12 games during the 2013 season in which he was New York’s starting free safety.

Courtesy of ESPN.com

The 12 games per season are a result of suspensions in each season, the same story the third time around.

When Hill is on the field, he’s an impactful defender whose ability to take on the last-man role for a defense will be a welcomed addition to the Ravens, as they struggled to find a safety capable of that role last season.

In 2013 with New York, the defense was frequently catered to Hill’s coverage ability by giving him the freedom and responsibility to occupy the back end without help.

Hill 2

In coverage, Hill possesses the range and back-end instincts needed to be a true free safety in the NFL.

He had two interceptions in 2013, and on both occasions, Hill’s closing speed, playmaking ability and natural feel as a defender were on display.

In the final minutes of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Hill feasted on an opportunity to take advantage of a desperation throw down the sideline to wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

With the ball in the air, Hill has plenty of ground to cover in order to undercut the speedy Jackson.

Hill 3

An underthrown ball gives Hill a chance to make a play, though, and his speed gives him a prime opportunity to pounce on the ability to seal the win for the Giants.

As the ball approaches Jackson, Hill positions himself and reacts in ample time.

Hill 4

The end result is an easy interception for Hill, who fully extends to block out any area for Jackson to make a play.

Hill 5

A simple opportunity in which Hill benefitted from a poor throw, but a prime example of his large defending radius in the secondary.

Later in the season against the Detroit Lions, an interception by Hill put more emphasis on his instincts than athletic ability with the end result being a touchdown.

On a play in which Hill has man coverage in front of him, his duty is to occupy the third level behind his defenders and bolt forward if an opportunity presents itself.

The throw on the play is to the tight end, but it is just out of reach of the intended target, making way for a roaming Hill behind the play.

Hill 6

As the back-end defender, Hill needs to leave ample space behind him to compensate for the deep passing game, while also being close enough to the intermediate level to aid if needed.

Hill’s instincts place him in the prime position to snag the batted ball, leaving him with an easy path to a pick-six after getting a quick jump on the play.

Hill 7

Capitalizing on the mistakes of the offense by being in the perfect position to not only intercept the pass but return it for a touchdown proves Hill’s worth as someone who can make an impact in the passing game.

Coverage is the main question when it comes to free safeties, although Hill’s willingness in run defense is also a welcomed addition.

Overall, in terms of pure on-field talent, the Ravens signed a player capable of making an impact for the team this season.

By the time he is eligible to play, Hill may face a tough counterpart for playing time in rookie Terrence Brooks, a player expected to take over as the starting free safety at some point this season and possibly as early as Week 1.

But even if not a starter, Hill provides the Ravens with something the Ravens didn’t have in 2013: depth at safety.

Past history tells us to expect the worst and hope for the best with Hill, whose past troubles have provided no assurance that he is past those issues.

If the Ravens can get 10 games out of Hill this season, though, the low-risk signing should turn out to be a sound investment.

What best describes your feelings about the Ravens signing of safety Will Hill?
Great value, another stroke of genius from Ozzie (86%)
Another potential headache who isn't worth the time. (14%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.

7 Raves on “Addition of S Will Hill a Shrewd Move

    • Kyle on said:

      Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo never left the field once they became starters. There was no depth behind them to relieve either for even just a few plays a game last season.

  1. Cheri on said:

    From what I was able to observe watching the Giants last year is that Hill WILL (NO PUN INTENDED) will take over at free safety when he comes back from suspension. This guy is really good, of course we will have to see if he can stay clean during his idle time.
    Interesting to see that Seattle yesterday signed 2 guys who some Ravens fans myself included would not had mind seeing the Ravens sign and that was Eric Winston and Terrell Thomas. A right tackle and corner. I am still hopeful they will sign a corner and RT to at least compete sometime leading up to week 1. As Ozzie likes to say ” We are always looking to improve the team right up until the start of the season”Hell, Monroe came in the middle of the season.

  2. Brian Tray on said:

    I can easily see Hill on the field with Elam, Brooks, Webb and Smith. That might be a pretty strong secondary in obvious passing situations.

  3. James on said:

    One question that keeps popping into my head since we signed this guy, wiith the question marks at CB, can Hill, or one of the other free safeties play the nickle position?

    Everyone keeps bringing up how thin the CB position is. But how thin is it really?

    Yes we lost Ross, but there was a 50/50 chance he wasn’t going to make the team anyway and even if he did make the team its hard to say how much playing time he would have gotten. And yes, Webb is hurt, but that really isn’t a real concern until it is reported to be something serious, or if he is still injured at the beginning of the season. I think as fans we got spoiled knowing we had a decent 3rd CB in Graham and now that he is gone people won’t shut up about it. When Harbaugh got here he didn’t have anybody in the secondary to speak of, besides Ed Reed(yes Chris was here but Harbaugh benched him). Than he drafted Webb, but he took 3 years to become the corner he is today. And now we have Smith, who also took a few years to mature into the CB we know today. Sure there were some okay corners here and there, but no one in the same league as those two. We have two corners that are probably in the top 15, top 20 in all the corners in the league and all fans can do is complain about how we don’t have a 3rd one on that list.

    • James on said:

      Look at the Super Bowl run. With Webb getting injured the team was able to get by with two decent CBs in Williams and Graham and a struggling Jimmy Smith.

      Look at Graham, he seemed to be nothing more then a special teams player when the Ravens signed him, and Williams probably would have remained a practice squad player if the Ravens wouldn’t have taken him from the Titans. Who’s to say one or two of the guys on the roster aren’t prepared to take that 3rd spot. Right now there are questions but the could be answered by the 3rd preseason game.

      Also look at all these teams that get by without good corners. The 49ers have done it for years and until 2012 the Patriots used to do it. Right now the front 7 and the offense appear to be in good shape. And those two groups can add pressure and force opposing offenses to make mistakes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

CRAB BAG: Ravens Look for Revenge in Dawg Pound

Just when we thought we could put all of this season's off-field ugliness behind us and finally start to focus on football, ESPN fanned the flames of controversy right as the coals seemed ready to die...read more

ESPN on a Ravens Witch-hunt?

Roger Goodell’s press conference on Friday to address Ray Rice's Elevator-gate and domestic violence boiled down to this: Random media guy: Roger what do you have to say for yourself? Goodell:...read more

BATTLE PLANS: Ravens vs. Browns (Round 1)

Offense 1. Control the Edges The rush end rotation of Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, and Jabaal Sheard were dominant against the New Orleans offensive tackles last week. Kruger in particular had h...read more

Ravens @ Browns Friday Injury Report & Game Status

GAME STATUS   RAVENS Doubtful: DT Timmy Jernigan (knee) Questionable: RB Bernard Pierce (thigh) Probable: QB Joe Flacco (illness); CB Asa Jackson (concussion); CB Lardarius Webb (back...read more

BOLD PREDICTIONS: Ravens @ Browns

Ravens cruise by Cleveland and their fire lake with a double digit win and crushing PK Predictions. Along the way they get a 250+ yard effort from Joe Flacco and Lorenzo Taliaferro actually runs the b...read more

View More