Tony Hills’ name has surfaced infrequently during training camp, but when it has it is most frequently paired with John Jackson.
Tony Hills played tackle for UCLA before the Steelers drafted him in the fourth round of this spring’s draft. John Jackson was of course a tenth round pick out of Eastern Kentucky in 1988.
There was little consensus surrounding Hills when he was drafted. Some writers suggested he’d have gone higher if it were not for an injury, others questioned his toughness.
Writing in the Steelers Digest, Jim Wexell first compared the two players, remarking, “Tony Hills looks like John Jackson. He’s raw but he has a great build, long arms, and quick feet.”
- The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Scotty Brown was less generous, declaring Hills as “a major project.”
Most recently this week the Tribune-Review’s Mike Prisuta offered that he couldn’t figure out of Tony Hills was the next John Jackson, or the next Fred Gibson — the last 4th round pick who failed to make the team.
A tenth round pick is by definition a long-shot to make the team. John Jackson had a difficult time in preseason, getting runover left and right by a young Pat Swelling in the Super Dome in the final preseason contest of 1988.
Yet Jackson made the team, and he grew into a Pro Bowl caliber left tackle. (In fact, Jackson became the highest paid lineman in football when he left via free agency in 1998 — He was grossly overpaid, but it did take the Steelers two full years to recover from losing him.)
So the Steeler press corps might be unable to make up their minds, but you’ve very well may have made up yours. What do you think?
Does Hills have long-term potential or was he a reach? Sound off in the comments section.