The Falcons didn't wait long to follow up on Thomas Dimitroff's promise of changes in the secondary. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer tweeted that the team traded a seventh round pick to the St. Louis Rams for cornerback Tye Hill.
Hill is a cautionary tale in many ways. Picked 15th overall by the Rams back in 2006, he made the Pro Football Writers of America's All-Rookie Team, but has largely struggled to stay on the field since then. He ended both 2007 and 2008 on injured reserve, and his play when he was on the field rarely approached any kind of sustained excellence. For his three-year career in St. Louis, Hill picked 4 passes, deflected 13 and came up with 105 tackles. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, and now you know why the Rams were willing to swap a seventh rounder for the guy.
That said, this could be a bigger coup than the Domonique Foxworth trade last year. Foxworth was and is a savvy coverage cornerback with average-to-above average physical tools. Hill has blazing speed and was highly regarded coming out of college, and at age 27 there's still the possibility that he could be a late bloomer. The vast potential he showed in his first year in the league makes this a very low risk gamble for the Falcons.
What Hill won't bring is size, but it's become clear by now that Dimitroff and Mike Smith aren't really hung up on how tall a guy is, and that's probably for the best. It's going to take a little while to get Hill up to speed on the defense, but with the secondary struggling to gel and Chris Houston in particular looking like he's out of position too often. Worst case scenario is that we wasted a pick at the very end of the draft on a guy who won't do much. The best case scenario is that we've found a guy who will jump into the starting lineup, deliver on his potential and prove to be a punishing cover corner who can tackle a bit. My bet is somewhere firmly in between, which makes him excellent value for the Falcons.
The question now becomes which cornerback will lose his roster spot to make room for Hill, and unfortunately, my guess is that it'll be William Middleton. There's a guy I really hope they keep around on the practice squad, but we shall see.
What are your thoughts on this trade?