Five players had 14.5 sacks or more in the NFL last season. Jordan Hill would join their ranks in 2015 if he can sustain the pace he set over the last six games of 2014 when he recorded 5.5 sacks. Only Sam Adams, Cortez Kennedy and Brandon Mebane recorded more sacks (7.5) than Hill (7.0) as Seahawk defensive tackles over their first two years in the league. Expectations have been raised for a player who was clearly missed during the playoff run last season.
Hill is a stocky 6’1″ and weighs over 300 lbs. The first person I thought of when I watched film of his play in college was Mebane. They both have a bowling ball style and appearance. Unfortunately, Hill was disappointing in Senior Bowl practices during pass rush drills. He was regularly overpowered and caught off balance. This trend continued during training camp with the Seahawks.
Hill has a terrific motor and attitude. He brings it each and every time. It simply appeared that either his lack of strength or poor technique might have been too much to overcome at this level. Something clicked, though, over the last six games of 2014. After collecting zero sacks through ten games, and often not getting any snaps at all, he exploded for sack in nearly every game thereafter.
His first few sacks came from simply being in the right place at the right time as Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett flushed the quarterback into Hill’s arms. Good fortune does not last for six games. Hill gained confidence and started making individual plays. His best play might have been his amazing interception of a pass Shaun Hill was trying to spike into the turf.
Hill has not shown much ability to hold the point versus the run. His pass rush talents are what tantalize.
Hill enters his third season with a chance to become a core part of the team’s future. The team has more question marks for interior pass rushers than they do on the edge. Only Bennett has proven his worth on the inside. Hill very much looked that part as the team streaked to finish the season.
It will now be about consistency. Expecting Hill to collect 14+ sacks is foolish. Hoping for 10+ is not out of the question. A solid contribution would be 6.0 or more.
Hill needs to grow as a run defender as well. Teams will exploit his presence on the field if he cannot stop the run, which will force the Seahawks to limit his snaps and reduce his potential pass rushing impact. He does not need to be a Mebane-level mauler, but anything he can do to become a viable run defender will unlock his greater potential.