Tyreek Hill is an outstanding punt returner and wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s the kind of weapon that helped take the team from perennial playoff contender to perennial NFL championship contender. He’s got the speed and ability that had some people talking about him trying out for the Olympics. Still, at least one analyst is more than a little confused as to why Hill was recently named to the all-decade team as a punt returner.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk doesn’t believe Hill was the best punt returner of the decade, and as he put things, “he wasn’t even close.”
Smith pointed out Hill recorded 85 punt returns for 1,009 yards. That puts the Chiefs star at 25th in punt return yards for the decade. He’s also someone who has been transitioning from special teams to full-time offense and made that transition complete in 2019.
He was electrifying as a return man in his rookie year. He had 592 punt return yards in 2016 and led the NFL. But the Chiefs started moving him off the return units the very next season.
Hill had just over 400 yards combined in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, Kansas City made him a full-time receiver, and he had zero punt return yards.
As Smith points out, that means he had one season where he qualified at the position and two seasons where he split time. The analyst doesn’t believe that should qualify him for the all-decade team.
By contrast, Devin Hester had twice as many yards returning punts in this decade.
“Hester did make the all-decade team as a kick returner, but if the all-decade team was going to have separate spots for returning kickoffs and returning punts, then putting Hester at both positions would have made more sense than putting Hill at the punt return position when he only returned 85 punts.”
It wasn’t just Hester that beat out “The Cheetah,” either. Ted Ginn, Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, and Travis Benjamin were all arguably better returners than the Chiefs star. The analyst believes there were far too many voters who were swayed by the player’s highlight reel rather than looking at the facts of the thing.
While some people might dismiss the all-decade team as just an honorific title, Smith says this kind of list is used to examine and bolster a player’s case for making the Hall of Fame. That’s why the choices of who makes the team and who doesn’t matter. He believes choosing Tyreek Hill was a mistake.