- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Jets thought so highly of WR Stephen Hill in the draft that they gave him a first-round grade and traded up in the second round, selecting him 43rd overall.
Coach Rex Ryan apparently wasn't a fan of the move, as he explained to Sports Illustrated.
"Well, nothing told me he would [contribute],’’ Ryan said. “Nothing. When I saw the tape, I was concerned. But [GM] Mike Tannenbaum and [senior personnel executive] Terry Bradway and all our scouts were adamant about this guy. They were adamant that this guy can do it. He can run all these routes, he had good hands and he’s got 4.2 speed at 6-foot-5.
"He was the guy they all wanted, but honestly, when it came down to it, a wideout? Not my dream pick. But now that we have him, of course, I want to claim him: ‘Oh, that was my pick.’ But it really wasn’t."
That sounds a bit harsh, doesn't it? A couple of things: After the draft, Ryan told reporters that, as a defensive-minded coach, he wasn't in love with the idea of picking a receiver so high. On Sunday, Don Banks, the SI reporter, tweeted some perspective, saying Ryan gave a "tongue-in-cheek" answer in an attempt to be self-deprecating.
"He wasn't dissing Hill as much as he was dissing himself," Banks tweeted.
I'm curious to get Mr. Hill's reaction.
UPDATE: Ryan, questioned by reporters Monday about his comments, said the quote was taken out of context. He said he meant to praise the scouting department for identifying Hill, adding that he was only joking about not wanting to pick a receiver so high in the draft. Ryan said Hill has exceeded his expectations.
"What I was kidding [about] was, 'Oh, man, we're going to take a receiver?' And it got blown up like he wasn't my pick," Ryan said. "I'm always trying to convince you guys, 'Oh, yes, he is my pick.' He's definitely my pick now, because I think he's going to have a really bright future."
3dField Yates and Rich Cimini