METAIRIE — There is no telling where Taysom Hill will line up on the football field for the New Orleans Saints.
During the team’s run to the NFC Championship Game last season, Hill lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and played a lot on special teams for head coach Sean Payton. Which is how the 6-foot-3, 220-pound has a career stats line that includes 64 passing yards, 196 rushing yards, 348 return yards, 10 tackles and 3 total touchdowns.
So does the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Swiss Army Knife player view himself?
“I think at the end of the day I have been a quarterback since I was a little guy and that has always been the end goal and the end opportunity,” Hill said. “I want to play quarterback. Coach (Sean) Payton and the other guys on staff have made it clear that they care a lot about my progression at the quarterback position, which gives me a lot of pride. That is definitely a priority for me. Making sure that I stay up on all the other things that I’m asked to do.”
Hill is asked to do multiple things and one of those things is learning the ins and outs of Payton’s extensive offensive playbook. Hill admits that he is far more confident beginning this training camp than he was a year ago.
“I’m a lot more confident playing inside of the offense right now than I did last year (or) obviously my rookie year coming here,” Hill said. “I think the progression as a quarterback, you get more time on task inside the offense and you get more confidence getting up to the line of scrimmage, things start to slow down a little bit.”
Hill added, “I think that’s the great challenge of this game for a quarterback is getting to the point where you can play fast enough and take the mental part out of the game.”
That doesn’t mean that Hill is completely comfortable with the playbook. The former BYU star admits that it is still a challenge to grasp everything.
“Look, it’s hard. You ask that question and I will say, I don’t feel like I’m where Drew (Brees) and Coach Sean (Payton) are,” Hill said. “But I will say comparing it obviously to where I was two years ago, to where I was last year, I feel a lot more confident in the gameplan. But by no means do I feel like I’m where Drew (Brees) is and it’s a constant learning experience for everybody. That’s just the progression as a quarterback, but I’m definitely still learning.”
Hill may view himself as a player that is still learning but his head coach has seen significant improvement.
“Well, his grasp of the offense, his ability to take the play into the huddle out to the line of scrimmage, get us in the right play,” Payton said. “I thought he threw the ball pretty well the last couple of days. And then the things that are harder to see or the things that can happen in a game when a play breaks down and he can advance it. He’s doing well.”
When asked if Hill feels that his production last year warrants him receiving even more snaps during the upcoming season, Hill states that is a decision that is not up to him to make.
“That question is not for me,” Hill said. “I think the one thing that I’ve realized in the NFL is that you have to prove yourself every year. You have to prove yourself every week because it’s a really competitive league.”
So what does Hill think of other NFL teams trying to find, and develop, their own versions of the Saints versatile fan favorite?
For example former LSU quarterback Danny Etling is being moved to wide receiver in New England and has been compared by his teammates as a “Taysom Hill” type.
“Honestly, I don’t think about it too much,” Hill said. “I like creating other opportunities for guys like myself in the NFL. It’s not an easy leap to make it in. If you can create opportunities for guys that can do different things.”
Hill added, “That’s been a really cool thing and I know I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I look across the NFL and other guys that are asked to do similar things and, man, it’s a lot of fun to be out on the field competing.”