Rookie Rundown: RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

Rookie Rundown: RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State

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Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Justice Hill enters the NFL after a three-year career at Oklahoma State as one of the better running backs in the country.

One of the hottest recruits in 2016, the Cowboys attracted the local Hill after being a star at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he scored 32 touchdowns in his senior year alone. Hill was the state’s Division II Offensive Player of the Year. He went to Stillwater in part since he became a starter as a freshman.

He was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and a Freshman All-American. He led the nation in rushing among all freshman. In 2017, Hill led the Big 12 in carries (268), rushing yards (1,467), and rushing touchdowns (15).

Hill’s overall stats dropped a bit last year since he missed two games with a rib injury and opted to skip the bowl game in order to remain healthy for the NFL draft. But he ended with a personal best 5.9 yards per carry.

Height: 5-10
Weight: 198 pounds
40 time: 4.4 seconds

Hill is undersized for the NFL but is a fast, shifty rusher who has produced explosive runs at every level he has played.

Year Games Runs Yards Avg. TD Catch Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2016 13 206 1142 5.5 6 5 46 0 1188 6
2017 13 268 1467 5.5 15 31 190 1 1657 16
2018 10 158 930 5.9 9 13 68 0 998 9

Pros

  • Fastest official 40-time (4.4) among running backs at the 2019 NFL Combine
  • Shifty, quick runner in the open field
  • Can make the lateral cuts to access open space on the outside.
  • Good ball security
  • Consistently productive all three years at Oklahoma State
  • Aggressive rusher that can start, stop, bounce outside, spin out of a tackle and break into the open all on one play.
  • Elusive, slippery back that accelerates out of a break.

Cons

  • Size will likely limit him in the NFL from being an every-down player.
  • Lived on his open-field talent so far but doesn’t always follow blocking.
  • Despite 40-time, not considered to have difference-making top-end speed.
  •  Needs work in pass protection. Was a liability even for the Cowboys on passing plays.
  • Lacks the push to be a factor in short-yardage plays.
  • Considered only an average receiver and caught just 49 passes over his three seasons.

Fantasy outlook

The problem for Hill is that he was highly productive at the college level where his size was less of an issue and his talent really shined. At the pro level, he’ll face much faster defenses. He would be more interesting had he been used more as a receiver since he measures up more as a third-down back.

He possesses undeniable talent running in the open field and making use of his formidable skills cutting and juking through the defense. He is a natural runner and if he can pick up pass protection better, he can end up as a complementary back in the NFL who can fill in as a primary rusher on occasion.

His talent spawns optimism that he can find a role in the NFL and is expected to be drafted in the second or third rounds by a team looking to add depth to their backfield with upside. But Hill will have to prove that he’s not just another highly productive back in college that doesn’t translate into the NFL because of his size and lack of receiving and blocking experience.

In fantasy terms, Hill will spawn optimism as a rookie with plenty of impressive runs in college. But he’ll need to show better ability as a receiver in training camp and the preseason to expect much fantasy value as a rookie – or even ongoing as a veteran.

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