NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Going into the 2016 season, I was uneasy with the Patriots situation at Running Back, and nothing happened throughout the season to change my mind. I am not talking about James White and Dion Lewis here. While technically they are Running Backs, their role is defined much differently than that of LeGarrette Blount’s role. I have gone on record several times about my displeasure with Blount’s running style and productivity. The one Achilles heal for the Patriots offense is the ability to run the ball on a consistent basis. My hope is that the team drafts a back who can come in and take some of the burden off of Tom Brady’s right arm (*cough Kareem Hunt cough.*) Since I probably have jinxed any hope of my binkie becoming a Patriot, I thought I better keep an eye out for some other between the tackle runners who might be able to replace Blount.
Name: Brian Hill (#5)
School: Wyoming (Jr.)
Height: 6’0″ (unofficial)
Weight: 219 Lbs. (unofficial)
Hill has the physical makeup I look for in a between the Tackles runner. He was a very productive runner over the past two seasons despite defenses focusing on him. Hill plays with good balance and shows a knack for getting yards after contact. He is a downhill runner with an aggressive nature. Hill keeps his legs moving and fights for every last yard on every single carry. He has some build up speed and makes defenders pay when he gets into the open field. Hill shows some above average lateral agility for someone his size. He is a willing pass protector and shows decent form when blocking. Hill had 5 career fumbles on 816 offensive touches, so he shows good ball security.
Hill was a frustrating watch for me at times. On one carry he may sit in the backfield and dance a little too much waiting for something to open, and then on the next carry he will be too aggressive and run into his lineman before they can set up their blocks. While he has decent speed, he lacks explosion. It takes him some time to get up to top speed and he loses his momentum when changes direction. He had some success running outside the Tackles in college, but that will not be the case in the NFL. Hill was not used much at all in the passing game from a receiving perspective and probably won’t have a 3 down role in the NFL. Hill was asked to handle a large chunk of Wyoming’s offense and there may be some wear and tear.
While I do not see Hill as a special back at the next level, I do see a player who could have some production. My big concern is his lack of explosion and his need for his O-line to create some space for him to get started. In New England and the NFL for that matter, that is rarely the case. I do like how he fights through contact and his ability to break tackles for additional yards. Hill also deserves a lot of credit for his productivity in college. Most teams planned around stopping Hill, and he was still able to have success on a regular basis. I see Hill as a mid Day 3 guy, probably the 5th or 6th round.