In what is the deepest class at the position that I have ever scouted, outstanding talents such as Wyoming’s Brian Hill have become rather overlooked ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft.
A physical ‘bruiser’ of a running back, who consistently brings the fire to his position with his trademark ‘flying braids’. Hill is the embodiment of a steam train in his playing style, taking the game to his opponents with an aggressive running style, to run over his opposite number while possessing the ability to run rings around them.
It was third-year head coach, Craig Bohl, famously unearthing a plethora of talented football players who had fallen through the cracks, as he had in Carson Wentz, that identified Hill’s explosive ability, having been widely ignored during the recruitment process.
Hailing from one of America’s toughest neighbourhoods in Eastern St.Louis, it was his mother who decided to uproot the family and set roots in the Illinois town of Belleville to provide Hill the help and stable foundation he needed, to make it as a football player and to fulfil his undoubted ability.
Fast forward to today and Mountain West defenses are breathing a collective sigh of relief now that he has moved onto pastures new, having led the Cowboys from a 2-8 finish a year ago to an impressive
8-6 record in 2016/17 and a first bowl appearance for six years. His high level of play and production (1,860 yards and 22 touchdowns) led teams to stack the box in an attempt to blunt him, instead opening up the passing game for the outstanding junior quarterback Josh Allen (nb. one to watch for the 2018 NFL Draft).
While he won’t offer a great deal in the passing game, he certainly packs a punch. What immediately stands out when watching him from the moment he collects the handoff, he uses his outstanding strength and physicality to hit the line of scrimmage with such force and an awareness to identify the gap and bully his way with a thump to the second level.
Hill cannot be blunted by a single tackler and must be gang-tackled with a loaded box to stop him. The impact he makes upon his opposition, always positive and always taking the game to the defence, is jarring when watching him, playing the position with not an ounce of fear in his makeup.
The senior secures the ball well at the handoff point, cradling in his well built upper body, powered by his sheer strength in his wide, muscular lower body. He wins with excellent technique and a natural leverage thanks to his low centre of gravity, that he utilises in order to keep his pad level consistently low.
Hill’s production this season matched what we saw on screen, his second successive year rushing for over 1,500 yards, with opposing teams having known and prepared for him each and every week. Hill has plenty of tread on his tyres and has proved that he possesses the durability to be a high volume ball carrier at the next level, with the size and frame to survive in the NFL.
His approach to the game and overall ability can’t help but remind you of a LaGarett Blount or Maurice Jones Drew and in a deep class such as this, Hill is going to represent one of the steals of the draft for a power- run offensive scheme in round three and maybe lower. His stock has somewhat been lost thanks to the presence of the likes of Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey, but be sure to find the St Louis native as a feature back from day one on Sundays.
A second round graded talent by our scale, who will continue to fly under the radar this spring, bouyed by a superb 4.4 second forty-yard dash during Wyoming’s pro day last month, underlining the outstanding size/speed combination Hill provides. He is going to be a steal in the third round range of the 2017 NFL Draft, who I firmly believe will be one of the best in this class during his rookie campaign.
2016: 14app – 349 – 1,860 – 22 (5ypc)
2015: 12app – 281 – 1,631 – 6 (6ypc)
2014: 12app – 145 – 796 – 7 (5.5ypc)
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