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Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: April 28, 9:24 AM ET
Jets trade up, draft WR Stephen Hill

By Rich Cimini

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets wanted a big, fast wide receiver to replace Plaxico Burress, so they selected the fastest -- and one of the biggest -- receivers in the draft.

They moved up four spots in the second round Friday night to pick Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound project who rocked the scouting combine in February with a 4.31 time in the 40-yard dash.

Soon after making the selection, the Jets raised the expectation level with a mega comparison -- MegaTron, that is. Joey Clinkscales, the team's vice president of college scouting, said Hill is similar athletically to Calvin Johnson, another Georgia Tech alum.

"I don't want to put that label on him" -- too late -- "but from a height, weight, speed standpoint, he's a unique athlete," Clinkscales said of Hill, who predicted a 4.3 time in a pre-40 combine interview with Jets officials.

In the third round, the Jets took unheralded linebacker Demario Davis, who will contribute primarily on special teams. The Jets have five picks remaining, but none in the fourth and fifth rounds.

On Day 2, the big story was Hill, one of the most intriguing players in the draft. Between him and Tim Tebow, who will be used in the Wildcat, the Jets' offense will be fun to watch with all its new and different dimensions.

The Jets wanted Hill so badly they gave up fifth- and seventh-round choices to jump up to the 11th spot in the second round (43rd overall), swapping places with the Seattle Seahawks, even though there were a handful of more accomplished receivers still on the board.

They gave Hill a first-round grade, thinking he has the ability to start right away.

"He has a ton of potential," general manager Mike Tannenbaum said.

Stephen Hill
The Jets have high hopes for Georgia Tech WR Stephen Hill.

Hill caught only 49 passes in three seasons at Georgia Tech, which employs an option running attack, but he was one of the most prolific vertical threats in the country. He averaged 29.3 yards per reception last season, including a remarkable 64-yard average on five touchdown catches.

The Jets need that dimension on offense, which produced only one pass play over 41 yards -- and that was a screen to LaDainian Tomlinson that broke for 74 yards. When the season ended, Rex Ryan identified the lack of big plays as one of the downfalls of the offense.

Hill believes he can be a big part of the solution, saying he can contribute "a lot of big plays down the field and big touchdowns at the right time."

The concern with Hill is his lack of experience in a pro-style offense. In Georgia Tech's triple option, he ran only basic pass routes and wasn't required to read a lot of coverages. The Yellow Jackets completed only 64 passes last season. Hill acknowledged that "it's going to be a big transition," learning the Jets' system.

"We think the transition can happen fairly quickly," Tannenbaum said.

The Jets did a lot of homework on Hill. They attended his pro day, gave him a private workout that lasted 90 minutes and flew him to their facility for another interview. He showed up in a suit and tie, making an impression on team officials.

Hill soared up draft boards after his electrifying combine, but the Jets believe he's more than a workout warrior. They like his football acumen and rated him as one of the best blocking receivers in the draft, and Hill didn't disagree.

"I can definitely put somebody on their butt," he said, adding, "They like my physicality a lot."

Aside from Santonio Holmes, the wide-receiver depth chart is wide open. They have Jeremy Kerley, Patrick Turner and recently signed Chaz Schilens, an Oakland Raiders castoff. The Jets also are keeping tabs on free agent Braylon Edwards, but there's not stopping Hill from walking into a major role -- if he's up to it.

Hill said he's looking forward to working with quarterback Mark Sanchez.

"I'm going to make sure I get with him as soon as possible, and we're going to try to get this roll on," he said.

In the third round, the Jets raised eyebrows by picking Davis (6-foot-2, 235 pounds), widely projected as a third-day pick. He's on the smallish side for the Jets' 3-4 defense and he has no experience playing inside linebacker. They fell in love with him at the Senior Bowl. They rated him as one of the top special teamers in the draft.

On Saturday, the Jets have three sixth-round picks and two in the seventh, including four compensatory picks.