Our look at potential free agent targets that could look for the Packers leads us back to the defensive line. Earlier I suggested Ricky Jean-Francois, an under rated long time backup who could help add a physical run stopping presence. Today we look at another big man who was buried down the depth chart of his team and could make a contribution to the Packers, Sammie Lee Hill.
Packer fans are probably more familiar with Hill than many other fan bases around the league due to his time with the Detroit Lions. As we know, the Lions have been stacked at defensive tackle the last few years with high round picks Ndnamukong Suh and Nick Fairly. Behind them is the consistent presence of Corey Williams. As a result, Hill languished as a backup and rotational player even though he showed promise as a rookie when starting. Now he is ready to test the market and should be an affordable option to bulk up the defensive line.
If the Packers acquire Hill he would definitely bring size to the line at 6’4" 329 lbs. Hill has shown an ability to push the pocket and get some interior pass rush that all teams crave, logging 4 sacks for his career so far. PFF has given him generally positive grades in pass rushing the last few years and this year gave him an overall grade of +5.6. [NOTE for a strong breakdown of Hill’s PFF grades and other thoughts on him as a player check out this analysis from Big Blue View our SB Nation site for the New York Giants.] Walter Football ranks him as the sixth best defensive tackle free agent this year, and Rotoworld has highlighted Hill as a "Pot Roast" type defensive linemanwho can be a run-plugging space-eater.
The best way comparison I can make for Hill is to Johnny Jolly. Hill has a similar size as Jolly (Jolly being 6’3" 320 lbs) and a decent ability to push the pocket and get his hands up. Also like Jolly, Hill is not going to be a dominate run stopping force, but should be able to clog running lanes, hold his ground, and free up the linebackers to make plays when needed. The closest guy the Packers have to this right now is C.J. Wilson. Wilson has done many of these same things for the Packers, but has been inconsistent in his performances. Hill should be able to be an upgrade for the Packers and provide another wide body for the defensive line rotation.
Although Hill has landed high on many scouting sites this offseason, he should still be a young and affordable player for Ted Thompson to grow the defensive line with. He would instantly be able to be part of the starting lineup for the Packers and be a significant contributor. Hill’s solid pass rushing abilities would allow him to stay in the rotation for the 2-4-5 defensive sets but his size and two gapping ability would make him an ideal DE in the Packers base formations as well. If the Packers are able to sign him he may turn out to be quite the get for a team looking to toughen up on defense.