K.J. Hill hails from Little Rock, Arkansas where he starred at nearby North LIttle Rock High School. After initially committing to playing his collegiate ball in state, he swapped from Arkansas to Ohio State in February of 2015. He was headed to the Buckeye State as a four-star prospect, the number one prospect in the state, and an Army All-American.
Hill contributed as a redshirt freshman in 2016 with 18 catches for 262 yards and a touchdown. As a sophomore, he took a step forward with 56 catches for 549 yards and three scores. He earned his first All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honor as a junior when he corralled a career-high 70 catches for 885 yards and six scores in 14 games. During his final season in Columbus, Hill led the team with 57 catches for 636 yards and 10 trips to the end zone in his final 14 games.
After graduating OSU, Hill was invited to the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he put on a phenomenal performance by creating consistent separation against defensive backs and hauling in impressive snags throughout the week. For his efforts, his peers voted him Wide Receiver of the Week. Prior to that year’s draft NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein gave Hill a fourth-round grade, so the Chargers being able to land him in the seventh was about as big of a steal as you could get in the draft.
Still trying to figure out how @OhioStateFB all-time leading receiver K.J. Hill (@KayJayHill) lasted until 7th round. Huge steal for @Chargers. North team DBs voted him WR-of-the-Week at the @seniorbowl. Polished enough to contribute in slot as rookie.#TheDraftStartsInMOBILE pic.twitter.com/T5Q81mgWcw— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) May 7, 2020
As a rookie in 2020, Hill caught seven passes for 73 yards and no scores in 15 games. Following the trading of Desmond King, Hill saw work as a punt returner, taking 12 punts back for 83 total yards.
College: Ohio State
Years with team: 1
“K.J. Hill signed a 4 year, $3,399,828 contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, including a $104,828 signing bonus, $104,828 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $849,957. In 2021, Hill will earn a base salary of $780,000, while carrying a cap hit of $806,207 and a dead cap value of $78,621.” - Spotrac.com
Graduating a college football blue blood with a program record is one hell of a note on an NFL resume. This told evaluators that he was trustworthy with sure hands. It also spoke to his ability to get open on a consistent basis.
Hill’s ability to contribute on special was also of note as a rookie. As important as that position was in 2020, Hill did “fine” but fine won’t necessarily cut it anymore with this new coaching staff.
Hill is unfortunately stuck behind five receivers heading into the 2021 season. For this year, at least. In 2022, it remains to be seen if Mike Williams will be back and/or either one of Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson, both of whom will be free agent after this year.
If Hill does find his way onto the field, it’ll also be because he fixed the shaky hands he showed last year as he dropped two of the 11 passes thrown his way.
Odds of making the roster/What to expect in 2021?
I think the Chargers will keep quite a few receivers on the final roster, but Hill is certainly in the edge of falling to the practice squad. As a former draft pick, that’s not likely under Tom Telesco, but if he can’t separate himself from the pack in some way, shape, or form, he won’t be seeing the field much over the next year or two.