NFL Draft Scouting Report: Brian Hill

Wyoming
Running back #5
Junior 6’1″ 219 pounds

Strengths:

  • Will shorten his strides to read and let blocks develop
  • Developed awareness to recognize blocking adjustments and wiggle through tight creases
  • Properly presses the LOS to set up cut-backs
  • Instinctive runner with the improvisation to find work
  • Works through contact by dropping his pads or sinking his hips and shoulders
  • Controlled footwork to adjust in tight areas
  • Can absorb contact on his legs with defenders bouncing off
  • Effective jump cuts on inside runs to work around contact
  • Tempo runner who sets up blocks and accelerates from behind them with quick feet
  • Stays on designated path rather than trying to do too much when the LOS is crowded
  • Physical runner who runs with requisite balance and a forward lean, making it difficult to bring him down on first contact
  • Shows good feel as an interior runner with his ability to get skinny and work through tight lanes
  • Effective stiff-arm keeps defenders off him
  • Desirable build with the thickness and the strength to churn out tough yards between the tackles

Weaknesses:

  • Bit of a tall runner who lacks cut-and-go quickness; tensd to gear down when making sudden cuts
  • Marginal twitch to escape trouble in tight spaces and make defenders miss in the open field with regularity
  • Doesn’t display optimal downhill burst when he has the opportunity
  • Likely isn’t going to beat many NFL defenders to the edge
  • Pass pro technique needs refinement
  • Feet often aren’t quick and tight to the second level
  • Occasionally indecisive when blocking muddies

After finishing fourth in the country in rushing yards and third in touchdowns with 1,860 and 22 respectively, Hill finished his Cowboy career with a school record 4,287 yards; no Wyoming player had ever rushed for more than 3,000 in a career. Those marks place him third all-time in Mountain West rushing yards as one of only three players in the conference to ever pass the 4,000-yard mark as he earned first-team All-Mountain West and third-team All-American honors.

Lost in an other-worldly class of runners, Hill is a talent in his own right with a thick frame and next-level build to match. For all the hype Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen earned this past season, Hill was forced to play and thrive behind an offensive line that struggled to generate movement against the likes of Nebraska, BYU and San Diego State. He was more than adept at adjusting his stride length and speed from the mesh point to his first two steps in order to let his blocking develop; this allows him to maintain the tempo of the play and the blocks themselves where he will properly set them up and quickly get out away from them. Despite his size, Hill has the innate ability to squeeze through tight creases and get lateral with noticeable wiggle, and between the tackles, his ability to recognize tight creases and get skinny shows his comfort as an interior runner. Contact is also no issue as he remains balanced both at and beyond contact as defenders bounce off his thick lower half.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hill fall in this year’s class despite his talent. For what he does physically, he struggles to do athletically: the majority of the yards he’s going to earn are what he does pre-LOS rather than beyond in the open field. He doesn’t possess the twitch and escapability to escape small areas or constantly make guys miss in one-on-one situations, therefore lacking the feet that quicken and tighten as he gets to the second level. While he can punish guys downhill, he doesn’t optimize his abilities to burst when he has the chance to do so, and I don’t envision him beating many NFL defenders around the corner or turning many medium gains into long runs.

Pro comp: Bernard Pierce/Roy Helu

Put these two in a blender and you unquestionably get the Wyoming star runner. Hill shares Pierce’s  ability to work between the tackles with the ability to power through contact and be physical with defenders, while sharing Helu’s ability to find tight creases and exploit them and struggles to beat defenders with lateral quickness and agility.

Draft projection: 5th round

The aforementioned talent in this year’s running back class cannot be understated, and I think Hill may struggle to find some traction. He’s certainly a grinder who succeeds between the tackles and generates extra yards with his legs which holds value in this league, but so does being a dynamic back who can play on all three downs which is something Hill currently is not. As on now, Hill appears to be more of a platoon back with the potential to develop into a feature back.

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