Over the course of his four years as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Tyreek Hill has been elite. In his rookie year, he was considered and elite kick and punt returner, making First Team All-Pro as well as the Pro-Bowl. That season, the plays that ignited fans and national media were his electrifying returns. However, something else was building. It was something far more powerful that most chose to ignore. That season, Hill had 61 catches for 593 yards and six touchdowns. Not bad numbers for a rookie wide receiver. Hill showed improvement in every game. Yet, headed into the following season, most dismissed Hill as merely a speed threat, a return threat, or even worse, just a gadget player. After his rookie season when the team released veteran wide out and fan favorite Jeremy Maclin, some wondered who would step up as the teams number one receiver. Especially since many considered Hill’s only significant quality to be deep speed.
Three years 3,522 yards, 212 receptions, 26 touchdowns, three more Pro-Bowls, two more All-Pro teams, and one Super Bowl later, Tyreek Hill has more than proven he isn’t just a fast player, he is a dominant player.
The aspect of Hill’s game that gets the most attention is his ability to score on deep plays, and rightfully so. Hill is the best deep threat in the NFL. It doesn’t matter the coverage by the corner or how many safeties are playing deep, Hill has the ability to beat them. He possess freak athletic ability and excellent timing on his deep routes. Make no mistake, this is where Hill will leave his mark on the history of the NFL. Even so, he is so much more than just a player that can go deep.
As teams have tried to find new ways to stop the deep ball, Andy Reid has had to get more creative with his play calls. This has made Hill become a more complete wide-out. Above, he has a good double move to create separation from the CB, but also goes to where the high safety cannot get to make the play. His versatility as a player is unmatched.
Hill’s versatility as a route runner was on display on the play above. The concept of running a wheel route with a player coming all the way across the field before they get into their break seems ridiculous at first. But, knowing how fast Hill is, Andy Reid has no problem dialing up this play. It makes life on the QB easier when they know if they can just stay in the pocket long enough a play will open up.
Hill also has elite start and stop ability. This is something some fast players struggle with since it is hard to get the full speed going again after a complete stop, but not for Hill. He comes back for the ball and is able to get his body square to the field. He then runs around his defender for the fist down.
Below, we can see this stop-start ability again as Hill pus on a clinic with his stutter and go route. A better throw turns this into a touchdown for the Chiefs. The defense is so worried about Hill going deep, they are willing to give up ground, which works for the stutter routes favor.
With teams terrified of getting beat deep by the Chiefs, it has opened up another aspect of Hill’s game which is his ability to run short or intermediate routes effectively. The Chiefs saw lot of this in 2019. Teams were ready to give up medium yards plays or even first downs, all in an effort to protect the deep ball.
Due to injury and how much he was used when he was in the games, we did not see electrifying punt and kick returns from Hill like years past. However, in a critical game without Patrick Mahomes against the Minnesota Vikings, Hill’s presence as a returner was enough to sway the game. I expect for the Chiefs to see less and less of Hill as a returner as time goes on but if the game is on the line #10 will back ready for the kick.
It is the hope of every Chiefs fan that Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes have a long historical career together, and right now it is on track. In just two seasons of playing together, they have won a Super Bowl. Perhaps more importantly, they have changed the way the game is played. No longer are teams looking for players that can sustain long, methodical drives. They are seeking for home run hitters; guys that can score in the blink of an eye. They are looking for guys that are faster than ever and quarterbacks that can how the ball a country mile. These teams, however, forget one crucial ingredient to the Mahomes and Hill equation. A player can have every attribute in the world to look good enough to draft, but if they can’t transfer this ability to the field then it is all for not. That’s what makes Tyreek Hill elite. That’s what sets him apart from any other WR in the game. He can make the same routine plays as any of them, but he also has the ability to make plays nobody else, maybe in the history of football, can. The Elite are a small group, but when someone is a member, it is clear to see why.