With the first night of the NFL draft coming on Thursday, Cowboys Ride For Free will be profiling the two Oklahoma State prospects we think have the best chance of being selected in Nashville. The first one we’re going to be diving into is running back Justice Hill, who made an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine but didn’t get as many carries as he normally would have his junior year. We will have to see how this affects his draft stock.
Position: Running Back
Weight: 198 pounds
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
NFL Draft Projections: Anywhere from third round to fifth or sixth round.
2018 stats: 125 carries for 930 yards and nine touchdowns; 13 carries for 68 yards receiving
Career stats: 632 carries for 3,539 yards and 30 TDs; 54 carries for 304 yards and 1 TD receiving
Best game: 2017 vs. Oklahoma; 30 carries for 228 yards and 2 TDs
40-yard dash: 4.4 seconds
Bench Press: 21 reps
Vertical Jump: 40 inches
Broad Jump: 130 inches
Hill is shifty and can make defenders miss, which makes him a strong running back. He could a be a real diamond in the rough if he ends up on the right team in the right system that plays to his strengths. He could be a factor in the screen game right away. When he has room the defense better look out because he’s as good as gone. Hill can evade tackles and when he does have the ball, you can rest easy knowing it’s going to be secured. Hill can fan the spot between the tackles and isn’t afraid afraid to do what he has to do to make sure a play stays alive.
His combine numbers speak for themselves as the No. 1 running back in multiple categories at the event. Despite OSU being a pass-heavy offense Hill still found ways to get the ball. One of thing I loved most about watching Hill was his ability to quickly think on his feet. You would think a play would be dead but nope, he’s still going... and it’s a first down. If you needed 10 yards, you could always count on him to go out and do what he had to do to make that happen. He turns it on when the pressure is high. With two seasons rushing for more than 1,000 yards, Hill was one of the top running backs in the Big 12.
At OSU, Hill struggled at times in pass protection against bigger defensive players and that could be an issue in the NFL with players being even bigger in size. While Hill can be elusive, he can also try too much at times which will result in shorter plays. He doesn’t have the power other backs have and was dealing with a broken rib last season.
Hill also is coming from the Big 12, which isn’t known for it’s defenses. This could hurt him a bit when it comes to his draft stock. Teams might wonder what will happen when he lines up against elite defensive players. Another thing teams might worry about is the fact that he’s not afraid to take a hit. Can they afford the injuries he might sustain from being that physical? On the flip side, teams might value his physicality.
Running backs aren’t as highly sought after as they once were, but there’s still value in a back like Hill for the right team like the Chicago Bears. They’re in need of a back like Hill to fit into second-year head coach Matt Nagy’s offensive scheme and give them another options after Tarik Cohen. Chicago doesn’t have a first- or second-round picks thanks to last year’s trade with the Raiders for Khalil Mack, so they’ll wait until the third round (87th overall) where they could scoop him up.