Tyreek Hill is a true number 1 receiver

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Wide receiver Tyreek Hill
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Wide receiver Tyreek Hill /

After all of the noise leading into this season about second-year wide receiver Tyreek Hill stepping up to the number one spot, he has proven he is worthy.

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were hearing about the release of veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and head coach Andy Reid was naming second-year wide receiver Tyreek Hill the number one receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs. When this happened, all of the “Gadget Player” titles started piling in and people wasted no time giving Hill that label.

We all heard the comparisons that analysts were giving, such as wide receivers Tavon Austin or Cordarrelle Patterson. I’m sure like me you heard about a thousand other names to add to that list but those were the two most common names that came up. The only problem is, I think Hill is a much different player than both of them.

While he was a very valuable player last year being used in many different ways does not mean that there is no way he can have success at being just one of those positions. In fact, you can still incorporate him in the run game like the Kansas City Chiefs have by all the sweeps that they’ve run and he is still returning punts for special teams.

Most of the people that think that Hill can’t be any more than a gadget player are people that haven’t watched much film on him. These are the people that think that his only skill set is his remarkable speed and is only a deep threat. I’m going to show you how wrong those people are and how Hill can be a great number one receiver for years to come.

Tyreek Hill can win anywhere on the field

While Hill is known for his speed and making plays deep down the field, he is also a huge threat in the short game. One of the criticisms of Hill this last offseason is that he would not be able to succeed against press man coverage against top corners. Some of this has to do with him being small and some with just thinking he only has top end speed.

While Hill is only 5’10, he is also pretty stout sitting at 185 pounds. He’s not going to go flying every time someone makes a tackle on him. Often, you will see him use his size to initiate the contact to gain a couple additional yards.

Many people like to use the excuse of his height for why he won’t have success, too. He’s too small for a receiver. Those are old fashion football fans, in my opinion, the game has advanced. If his height was truly the problem, then you wouldn’t be having guys like Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson have success. Brown is the same size and builds as Hill and Jackson is actually 10 pounds lighter.

Another thing you also have to factor in when looking at press man coverage is his stutter stepping, great balance, and unbelievable acceleration. His quick movement of the feet stuns the cornerback who is trying to anticipate where Hill is going to go. Then when Hill does take the direction he’s going, they can’t keep up with his ridiculous acceleration and get left in the dust.

When I went back and watched last years film over the offseason, the only cornerback that really gave Hill trouble in my eyes was Denver’s Aqib Talib. Which is not something that concerns me because Talib is probably the best physical corner in the league. At the same time, there were times where Talib would go to shove Hill in the chest to knock him off his route and Hill would swat it away and take off past him.

This still sounds like he’s only a deep threat though, doesn’t it? Well, all of these skills make him just as dangerous in the short yardage passing game as well. His stutter step and high acceleration when he does choose his direction still gets him quick separation against corners. His strength and size and holding balance when corners do get a hand on him help him stay on his route and get around them.

Not to mention the fact that as you have seen most of the time this year, corners are leaving about ten yards in between themselves and Hill. Even when they are playing off coverage and have their hips ready to turn they still find themselves getting left behind. This also is an advantage for Hill in the short yardage game as well though.

In the clip above you will see that the corner is lined up about ten yards off of Hill to help avoid getting torched deep. The Chiefs often take advantage of this by having Hill run and short, cut back route and make easy ten yards like seen in the clip. You also see him take on contact and still get a yard or two more.

Can make big plays after the catch

Another reason Hill is so dominant on short yardage plays is his ability to get yards after the catch, or YAC. Often people look at his box score and just assume that all his catches are on long passes when in fact it was a short 5-10 yard route that he turned into a 20-30 yard play. If you look at the main weapons on the Chiefs offense you will notice that all three in Hill, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, and rookie running back Kareem Hunt all are fantastic at getting yards after the catch.

In fact, out of Hill’s 356 yards on the season, 143 of those yards are yards after the catch.

That’s probably most of the reason this offense is having the kind of success that we have seen over the past five weeks. Hill has exceptional field vision and some of that comes from special teams and some of it comes from playing running back a majority of the time in college. Now you have a receiver that has the extremely fast acceleration to get separation quickly, great field vision and awareness, and insane elusiveness making it extremely difficult to bring him down.

Insane ball tracking skills

This is one of those areas that really separate Hill from those other players that are listed as gadget players. Hill’s ability to track the ball in the air and adjust his route to get to the catch point is light years better than that of Patterson and Austin. This is another skill that special teams help with.

There are plenty fast receivers in the NFL, but if you can’t track the ball it doesn’t do you much good.  Many receivers in the league can get separation just off their speed, but if they can’t track the ball at a high level or adjust their route when running at top speed, then you won’t be able to be that deep threat.

This is something that most casual watching fans don’t think about. The balance that it takes while tracking a ball and when running top speed, to all of a sudden change course and gets to the catch point outside of the designed route is extremely hard to do. Those two things right there are why there are so many just fast receivers and they are held to gadget player type play.

This place is a perfect example of all of this. Hill’s ability to adjust his route and track the ball at top speed and then his awareness of where is he on the field to get his feet both in bounds is truly remarkable. Just a phenomenal catch.

Can handle the extra attention

There were numerous common doubts about Hill taking over the responsibility of a true number one receiver and being able to still have success. Some of the doubts people had were that once Maclin was cut that defenses would be able to focus more on Hill and he wouldn’t be able to have the same success. That Kelce wouldn’t be enough to take away pressure on Hill.

Another excuse was that he was a surprise for teams and something they hadn’t game planned for since he didn’t start having real production till mid-season when he started getting involved more in the offense. Teams have had a whole offseason to watch film and game plan now.

The first game of the season was a true test to show that he could handle the extra eyes on him. The Patriots did their best to bracket both Kelce and Hill but with the great drawn up plays by head coach Andy Reid and Hill’s talents, he was still able to have success.

Hill ended up walking away with 7 catches for 133 yards which includes his 75-yard touchdown holding up the peace sign as he jogged into the end zone. He still had success not only getting open deep but beating the New England Patriots in the short yardage game on multiple slant routes.


While some fans are frustrated and think that Hill hasn’t gotten the ball enough in the first five weeks, Hill has been a successful number one receiver so far in my opinion. He ranks 12th in receiving yards throughout the league. We have seen him have real success as a number one and prove all the critics wrong.

All of the reasons that critics gave for why he can’t succeed are really just excuses because they couldn’t find real reasoning. None of the reasons I showed you from critics in this article give any proof of why he can’t succeed because of those things.

Smaller receivers can succeed if they have other traits that make them a good wide receiver, he has shown that even with more eyes on him and going against the teams top corners he can make plays, and he can handle press man coverage. Hill has all the traits to be able to be a successful wide receiver and if you still question it, turn on some tape because you haven’t watched him very closely these first five weeks.