Jordan Hill noticed an immediate difference from college to the NFL during his first day with full pads last week when All-Pro center Max Unger and left guard Paul McQuistan crashed down on him during a run-blocking drill.
“When it’s a double team, pass or run, you’ve got to put on your big boy pads and be ready to go,” Hill said, smiling. “I like going against the first team because I know I’ve got to bring it each and every play.”
At Penn State, the 6-foot-1, 303-pound defensive tackle was a man amongst boys, using his quickness, strength and leverage to overpower his opponents.
“The movement is the thing that we saw on college tape,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “As a 3-technique inside pass rusher, he’s very active, and that’s one of the things I noticed right away.”
A first team all-Big Ten performer his senior season at Penn State, Hill finished with a career-high 64 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in 12 games.
But Hill, a third-round selection for the Seahawks in this year’s draft, faces a steep learning curve. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said the team drafted Hill for his ability to rush the passer from the interior of the defense.
“It’s similar to what I did at Penn State,” Hill said. “I like playing both inside positions. I’ve just got to get comfortable. Once I get comfortable, I’ll be ready to go.”
Hill, 22, is third on the depth chart at nose tackle behind starter Brandon Mebane and backup Clinton McDonald, but will be given an opportunity to earn time as part of Seattle’s third-down pass-rush package.
“We’d like to see him really compete to be on the nickel group, and rushing the passer,” Carroll said. “He’s got nice quickness. He’s got a good style about his pass rush. We’ll see if that fits in. Right now, he’s making some good impressions in that regard so that would be a great role for him to fill.”
Hill is one of a handful of young players on the defensive line who will get a chance to show what they can do in the exhibition opener against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday. Carroll also has had high praise for fifth-round draft choice Jesse Williams, who has been working at defensive tackle on early downs,
and might be the front-runner to replace departed free agent Alan Branch as the team’s run-stuffing defensive tackle.