RB Kylin Hill scouting report: Value to be found in the middle rounds

Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

Kylin Hill may not top the list of running backs in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he brings his own inherent value to make him an immediate impact player.

Kylin Hill is a 5-foot-11, 210-pound running back with one of the most well-versed skillsets within the position entering the 2021 NFL draft. Whilst specialists like CJ Verdell and Chuba Hubbard have operated within individual facets of their own offenses, Hill has provided NFL front offices with tape on every single part of his game, from ball security to pass-catching to blocking.

As the NFL has become more and more obsessed with the applications of straight-line speed, many have forgotten the nature of freak athletes in football. Although names such as Raheem Mostert make the case for pure-burners across the running back position, Hill reminds us of the strength of athletic backs when making plays in traffic.

According to Hill’s ESPN football recruiting page, in 2017 he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash at nearly his current weight. We can safely assume based on natural development and game tape that Hill is now comfortably running in the mid 4.5’s, still placing him in the midst of running back 40-times. Instead of displaying his athleticism through speed, Hill is one of the most creative backs in the nation.

Hill has shown to be much more effective as a runner when changing direction and utilizing his athleticism over short distances. While he does not have the top-end speed to break off highlight plays, Hill always uses his elite quickness with an explosive cut to the rushing lane. Hill also incorporates excellent vision to constantly scan for cutback lanes and will switch field without hesitation.

Once Hill is beyond the line of scrimmage, his running becomes a series of reactions to incoming defenders using choppy strides and quick bursts of acceleration to distance himself from the mess of bodies. One of the most dangerous plays Mississippi State used Hill on was draw plays, allowing Hill to explode beyond the line of scrimmage and consume as much of the open-field as he could before contact.

Kylin Hill is a creative playmaker with the ball in his hands

When encountering a defender, Kylin Hill has one of the widest ranges of regularly-used ballcarrier moves out of any player I have scouted. The most popular of Hill’s moves include jumpcuts, hurdles and stiff-arms with a dash of spin and juke moves thrown in for variety. Hill’s hurdles are most definitely the calling card of his highlight reels and make him an unmissable physical talent, but these kinds of plays will be punished with prejudice in the NFL.

More from NFL Mocks

One play that stood out, in particular, was a 13-yard carry by Hill about halfway through the second quarter. Playing Kentucky, with 6:02 left in the half, Hill gets an inside shotgun handoff from the quarterback going right.

The power concept has the left guard pulling from the opposite side, but the run is stopped dead and Hill cuts it back to the left-side around the blocking tight end. Hill meets defensive back Yusuf Corker in the hole, who recorded 74 tackles in 2019. Hill stabs left and jumpcuts right, putting Corker on his hands and knees praying to not be seen on tape the following morning.

Kylin Hill may show excellence using his agility on the interior, but the most impressive part of his game has been through the air. Receiving backs are now a staple role on every NFL roster and Hill has acted as the dominant backfield-target for the Bulldogs thus far in 2020. In three games played, Hill has recorded 23 catches for 237 yards and one touchdown.

Although these stats came over the course of three games, Hill produced these numbers in only two matchups against LSU and Kentucky. With his elusiveness, Hill is a friendly checkdown target to quarterbacks with his ability to manufacture yards after the catch. His route tree throughout these games has been limited to swings, wheels, and outs but have been enough variety to make Hill into a weapon.

Although Hill’s playstyle places its premise on avoidance and finesse, the feisty-back carries his school’s bulldog character onto the field. Within the red zone, every single one of Hill’s snaps ends with a high-effort desperation lunge to end the drive as well as plenty of contact.

Even between the twenties, Kylin Hill finishes runs searching for contact to widdle down defenders throughout the course of the game. This tough running-style also brings a combative attitude which has gotten him into the facemask of more than one defender during his playing time.

The final mark on Hill’s scouting report goes to his consistent pass-protection which will be valued highly among NFL organizations. Hill steps up and sets his feet with a solid base off the snap, and is scanning for gap-shooting blitzes to confront. On one snap against LSU, Hill also called out pre-snap protections, showing his pre-snap knowledge and football intelligence.

Player Comp: James White, RB, NE

James White has been one of the most consistent producers in the NFL with the New England Patriots, functioning as their infamous high-volume receiving back like former Patriots Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead. From 2015 to 2019, White averaged 63 catches and 53 carries per season. In this same span, White also had 24 receiving touchdowns and 8 rushing touchdowns.

Next. 2021 NFL mock draft. dark

Kylin Hill has a chance to fulfill a similar role to White in New England. High-volume pass-catching, occasional shotgun rushing opportunities, and the key role as his quarterbacks additional pass-protector. This is the day-one value that will get Hill NFL snaps his rookie season, and he will have the chance to show the rest of his skills as he incurs further opportunities.