Justice Hill 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profile Scouting Report
After doing my first run-through of Post-Combine Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings last week and reading some of the feedback, I decided to take a closer look at the running back class. Justice Hill is a guy that in my look-through I have decided that I am probably too low on. He doesn’t have a ton of great traditional comparisons but he does fit the mold of a newer type of NFL running back that catches passes and gets put into space.
Justice Hill started out his true freshmen season as a backup running back at Oklahoma State while splitting carries with future Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson. However, by the Cowboys fourth game of the season, Hill had taken over the reins with 20 carries against Baylor. As a true freshman, Hill had 206 carries including five games with 19 or more carries. Chris Carson received with the goalline work with 10 touchdowns on only 95 total touches but Hill was clearly the lead back as an 18-year-old.
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Hill fully took over for Oklahoma State when Carson left for the NFL. He recorded 1,657 scrimmage yards with 16 touchdowns and an impressive 31 receptions (this is a major highlight as to why Hill is moving up in my rankings). Hill’s quarterback, Mason Rudolph, scored 10 touchdowns on only 61 rushing attempts which drug down Hill’s touchdown production. Unfortunately, the 31 receptions that Justice Hill had as a sophomore was his career high at Oklahoma State and he fell down to 16 receptions as a junior. He played in only 10 games as a junior and failed to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing for the first time as he ceded 124 carries to backup Chuba Hubbard and 122 carries to quarterback Taylor Cornelius.
Overall, his production profile is good if not outstanding. His extremely young breakout age (18) and 31-reception sophomore season are the two things he really has that separate his profile from the pack. Rodney Anderson’s at Oklahoma, for example, was not as good as Hill’s 2017 junior season. That counts for something in my evaluation though it is negative that he lost carries to two different players in his final season.
Justice Hill is definitely an athlete at the spots where it matters as a running back. His jumping numbers (vertical and broad) are both above the 93rd percentile which is an indicator of explosiveness. Hill’s 40 yard dash time of 4.4 seconds was amongst the fastest of the entire class of running backs but unfortunately, he did not participate in the short-area agility drills. My instinct from watching him play is that he would do well in them but it is possible in his combine practice that he did not time well so he elected not to run.
While traits are not scientific or falsifiable (yet) the one thing I can say for sure about Justice Hill is that he is SHIFTY. He changes direction behind the line of scrimmage and at the second level of the defense with equal ease. Oklahoma State at some points gave him the opportunity to be a between-the-tackles runner and he was not great there. My guess is that in the NFL, he won’t be asked to do that but that wouldn’t make him a non-valuable fantasy asset. His change of direction ability projects to make him useful as a rusher and as a pass-catcher. A bit undersized at 198 pounds, a role where Hill finds 15 touches a game almost immediately for an NFL team would not surprise me.
Justice Hill Final Verdict
Perhaps no running back in this class will benefit more from the changing nature of the NFL than Justice Hill. Ten years ago, some of the hard-nosed Big 10 rushers in this class would have been flying up draft boards. Now, a player with Hill’s change of direction ability and long speed is more desirable to NFL teams. As I continue to rework my rankings, I think that it’s possible that Hill ends up being one of my top-five running backs and if he goes in the second or third round of the NFL Draft, he could be a first-round rookie pick. A very good comparison for the style of player is Giovani Bernard. Bernard is also a shorter/smaller running back though Hill is a faster and more explosive player by workout numbers.
The Green Bay Packers are a team that could use Hill’s services right away. It seems unlikely that Aaron Jones will turn into a true workhorse for the Packers (though it is possible) and Hill could complement Jones in the backfield well. The Dallas Cowboys have been searching for a competent backup for Ezekiel Elliot and Hill would fit well in a 70/30 split with a more-talented runner. While he is not their type, the Jacksonville Jaguars are desperate for anyone in their backfield to add some dynamism and Hill could certainly do that.
2019 NFL Draft Prospect Profiles: