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Sammie Lee Hill - the next Leon Lett?

Rookie orientation starts later this afternoon and I'll have a full update on Matthew Stafford's first practice and how some of the other draft picks look, but here's a quick thought from coach Jim Schwartz on fourth-round defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill out of Stillman.

Hill isn't quite as unknown a commodity as Johnny Baldwin was two years ago when the Lions took him in the fifth round out of Alabama A&M. He was invited to the East-West Shrine game, but lasted just one practice when he tweaked a hamstring. He went to the combine, and he worked out Alabama's pro day.

“He wasn't a secret,” Schwartz said. “When you're 6-foot-4 and you're 330-some pounds, you have a hard time hiding, so scouts are going to find out about you. That's part of their job is to discover guys like that. But he wasn't a secret. ... Thirty-two teams all knew about him, so it wasn't like we were lifting or picking up rocks to find him.”

Still, Schwartz said watching scouting tape of Hill, who played mostly defensive end at Stillman, reminded him of another Alabama-born product he scouted years ago, Leon Lett of tiny Emporia State.

“He was playing teams like Northern State and some of these others; I can't even remember some of the schools,” Schwartz said. “The film was real grainy. You don't have the nice sideline and end zone (views), you got end zone that looks like it was filmed from the moon. And you just saw one guy that was twice as big as everybody else and then there'd be a pile and then you'd see somebody get knocked out of the pile the other way and you'd know that Leon was there.

“With Sammie, it was a lot of the same thing. Part of the film – literally, they took it from the booth and you can see the reflection of the guy filming it more than you can see down on the field. But then again, you see guys get knocked backwards a lot. You see him show up around the quarterback. He played end in a 3-4 and they used him to sort of shut down half the field.”

In camp this week, Schwartz said he'll be watching Hill's handwork and trying to gauge his awareness, his ability to match blocking schemes and stay on his feet.

“At the East-West game, he wasn't out of place, and that was one day, but he wasn't out of place,” Schwartz said. “You don't want to read too much into that, but he didn't look like a fish out of water there among major college players. He didn't look like a fish out of water at the combine. So we'll keep an open mind on him.”

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