Packers Rumors: Green Bay Interested in Corner Who Last Played in 2013
Leaving no stone unturned, the Packers are reportedly interested in bringing cornerback Josh Hill to training camp four years removed from his last NFL experience.
The 27-year-old Hill has been training in Houston, and has been posting videos of his progress on Twitter:
Wait, who’s cornerback Josh Hill?
2008-2012: CB and FS, Cal Golden Bears
After a redshirt 2008, Josh Hill faced off against NFL talent with mixed results.
- 2009: Hill started at cornerback for the first time in his career as #6 Cal fell on the road to unranked Oregon 42-3. In the first quarter, Hill recovered a fumble and during his return fumbled the ball back to the Ducks.
- 2010: Hill started at free safety for a Cal defense that surrendered 52 points and 497 yards in an upset by Nevada and quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
- 2012: Hill allows #2 Oregon’s receiver Josh Huff to grab three touchdown passes from Marcus Mariota in a 59-17 loss.
As a redshirt freshman, Hill earned a starting role as a cornerback thanks to his athletic ability. He impressed Cal's coaches in practice and on the field as the nickel cornerback against three-receiver formations, according to San Francisco Chronicle writer Ron Kroichick in October 2009.
He converted to free safety his sophomore season and replaced returning starter Sean Cattouse. Playing alongside future NFL safety Chris Conte, Hill became more than a defensive back with athletic ability.
The spring of 2011 brought bad news. Hill was temporarily removed from the team after multiple semesters with a grade-point average below 2.0, according to Mercury News reporter Jonathan Okanes in August 2011.
“I wasn't taking (school) seriously at all," Hill said after rejoining the team in the fall. "I was just trying to get by, get my C's, D's, just stay eligible. It caught up with me."
For what it’s worth, his coach was impressed with the defensive back’s hustle once he had returned.
"He's really turned into a leader for this team. He's grown up a lot," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said of Hill. "There's much more gratitude to be here. Sometimes it takes something getting taken away to really appreciate to be here and be with your teammates and have the things you have. That's what happened to him."
2013: CB, Arizona Cardinals
Hill was not selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, but signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent.
He joined a room of ten Cardinals cornerbacks where seven had previous NFL game experience. It was considered one of the strongest position groups for the team heading into training camp, especially after Arizona traded for Kansas City cornerback Javier Arenas in May.
Days before facing the Packers in the preseason opener, Hill was cut by the Cardinals after the team claimed defensive end Cordian Hagans off waivers from the Steelers.
Hill was not signed by another team during the 2013 preseason, and has not appeared on an NFL roster since.
How Josh Hill compares to the Packers current cornerbacks
When Hill appeared on the Cardinals roster in 2013, he was listed at 5-10, 203 pounds. Here’s how that compares to the Packers’ current stable of cornerbacks:
- Makinton Dorleant: 5-11, 182
- Demetri Goodson: 5-11, 197
- LaDarius Gunter: 6-2, 201
- Josh Hawkins: 5-10, 189
- Davon House: 6-0, 195
- Damarious Randall: 5-11, 196
- Quinten Rollins: 5-11, 195
- Herb Waters: 6-0, 188
It’s easy to take a look at Hill’s poor performance at his Pro Day as the reason why he wasn’t drafted. There, he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash alongside a 32” vertical and 117” broad jump.
Of the Packers selected in the draft by Ted Thompson, Hill would rank as the second-worst in the vertical (Pat Lee, 31") and broad jump (Davon House, 109") and last in the 40-yard dash.
Interest in Hill is the Packers front office at its best
The Packers have gained an advantage over most teams in their front office because they’ve had luck discovering talented players from small schools or players overlooked in the lead-up to the draft. Josh Hill is an example of the front office exploring every available option to upgrade the team.
It's not the first time Green Bay's tried unique avenues to find players.
Four months ago, the Packers attended a workout of Australian Rugby League players Valentine Holmes and Jason Taumalolo. Green Bay's scouts were interested in both enough to inquire about their availability for 2017.
Trying to solve the team’s problems in the secondary isn’t as simple as many make it out to be. Green Bay needs to find players who will fit in Dom Capers’ defensive scheme, are a match with cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr.’s style, and available at the right price.
But an undrafted cornerback who spent a single training camp with the Cardinals four years ago?
Josh Hill is the Peter Quill of cornerback prospects. Whether he can turn into the Star Lord the Packers are seeking remains to be seen.