The New Orleans Saints held the 2nd of 3 Mini-Camp Practices earlier today, and I made it a point on behalf of the Saints News Network to focus specifically on back-up QB Taysom Hill, whom as Saints fans well know by now that the team is very high on; and whom they believe could possibly become the eventual heir apparent to future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees someday.
If you visit this website often enough, then you already know how critical and skeptical I've personally been in several different Opinion articles on the topic, based partially on the observations of several well-respected analysts in the sports media industry who scoffed at the very notion of the Saints turning an athletically-exciting but somewhat limited QB in college (from the pure passing aspect), into a starting-caliber player at the League level.
It's hard to envision what the Saints SEE in Taysom Hill, until you watch him IN PERSON and physically see it for yourself.
Today was that day.
Hill did okay with mostly 2nd teamers in the line-up on the few series he had at the helm, and completed a few short range passes to RB's Boston Scott and Trey Edmunds out of the backfield, but missed on a few passes to Keith Kirkwood and TommyLee Lewis.
But it was on one of his final plays of the series, on what would have been a 3rd down-and-passing situation, that Hill demonstrated WHY the Saints like him, but yet still have much work to do with him.
As the pocket collapsed around him, Hill appeared to take off a bit TOO QUICKLY, instead of giving the play a single millisecond or two longer to develop, and allow the receiver to finish running his entire route (and possibly getting open for the reception).
Most long-time NFL veteran QB's have what's known as an "internal clock" inside of their heads, that tells them how long they have to hold onto the football and then exactly WHEN to release the ball out of their hands before the pocket eventually collapses from the oncoming pass rush.
That internal clock is particularly effective especially when they're working in tandem with a WR whom they work out with every day and have developed a sense of timing with on a daily basis (legendary San Francisco 49ers and Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana probably was the best ever in that aspect).
In Hill's case, he hasn't developed that "internal clock" yet — and tends to take off at the first sign of trouble.
And yet: had the play been a real one in actual game?
Taysom Hill with a SENSATIONAL scramble for what would have been a 30 plus yard gain --- when you SEE the possibilities of him running the Saints offense consistently, it's somewhat amazing to think how good the situation could eventually become.....
— Barry Hirstius (@BarryHirstius) June 13, 2018
Hill EASILY would have gained over 30 yards on the play after a magnificent scramble and would have gotten the drive down to inside of the opponent's 35 yard-line and into field goal range.
That innate capability that Hills possesses to KEEP PLAYS ALIVE is one of the biggest reasons why the Saints are enamored with him, and if Sean Payton and Drew Brees can help him improve his throwing accuracy; along with his mental awareness and sense of timing, Hill could actually become a legitimate starter someday.
Nevertheless, I still remain a bit of a skeptic, until Hill PROVES he is up to the task.
Perhaps that's what the upcoming Pre-Season games in August, will ultimately help to determine.
Both WR Michael Thomas and DE Cam Jordan were both excused absences for a 2nd straight day, and rookie 1st Round pick Marcus Davenport was held out of practice after participating yesterday. Other notable absences: rookie UDFA tight end Deon Yelder and Alex Okafor, who had also practiced yesterday.
ADDITIONAL SPECIAL TEAMS WORK:
Compared to yesterday's more lively and animated practice, today's work-out was rather subdued and part of that was due to the team deciding to focus more on walk-throughs and additional special teams work (including a few free-agent kicker try-outs), rather than simulated game action.
PLAY OF THE DAY:
In 11-on-11 drills with Brees running the 2-minute offense, the Saints 1st Team offense drove from their own 35-yard line down to just inside of the 10-yard line. After failing to get in on a screen pass and a minimal gain on a run by Kamara, the Saints offense faced a 3rd-down-and-goal-to-go situation.
Brees scrambles outside the pocket at the 10, and finds Mark Ingram for the TD crossing right over the corner pylon for the score ---- and Day #2 of Saints Mini-Camp is "in the books"
Check out my notes and observations shortly at @SaintsNews Network
— Barry Hirstius (@BarryHirstius) June 13, 2018
As the ball was snapped, Brees couldn't find any one open, and scrambled out to his right (while doing his best Taysom Hill impersonation) and straddled the line of scrimmage before firing the ball to RB Mark Ingram in front of the goal line as Ingram tip-toed inside of the right front corner pylon, for the score.
IMMEDIATELY afterwards, the air-horn blew — ending Day #2 of Saints Mini-Camp....