When the Green Bay Packers let Jamaal Williams walk this offseason, they lost way more than just a running back. Williams was the spark plug in the locker room, one of the dudes who constantly fired up teammates and kept the vibes positive regardless of the circumstances. He was a fan favorite. He was allowed to walk simply because the Packers re-signed Aaron Jones, used a second-round pick on A.J. Dillon last year and didn’t have a ton of cap space. Fast forward to this draft, and the Packers used a seventh-round pick on Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill. Will Hill make the squad and be able to carve out a niche role?
His best season with Mississippi State came back in 2019 when he had 242 carries for 1,350 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in the SEC. Hill is a physical runner with good size for the position (5’10”, 214 lbs.) whose running style is described by many as “violent.” There seemed to be a fairly clear consensus that Hill would go early on Day 3 of the draft, yet he slipped all the way to the final stages of Round 7 before Green Bay swooped in and selected him. There was nothing alarming about Hill that caused him to fall; it’s just the nature of the beast in those last few rounds of the draft.
As with every prospect, there are strengths and weaknesses to Hill’s game.
Hill is a powerful back who won’t go down easily. He has a quick burst at the line of scrimmage and has shown elusiveness once he gets to the second level. He’s decent at pass protection and always willing to put forth the effort. Hill is average out of the backfield as a receiving back, but Hill excels when he’s given the rock and can stir things up with a defense using his physicality. His most impressive stat? He never fumbled the ball in four years at Mississippi State. Four years. 452 carries. Zero fumbles.
Hill has been roundly and rightfully criticized for his tendency to freelance on a carry instead of finding where the hole is or following the plan and heading where the play is supposed to develop. It worked at times in college but won’t in the NFL unless he shows significant improvement. Even when he gets to the second level, instead of helping the flow of the play by setting up blockers, his approach leads to more of a free-for-all.
Hill is a rugged runner with a quick burst. Here’s a glimpse of what fans can expect from the seventh-rounder.
The suggestion here is not that Hill will come in and instantly earn carries in Week 1. That would be quite surprising given the one-two punch of Jones and Dillon; never mind that you typically don’t see seventh-round picks get that opportunity from the start. James Robinson was an outlier for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, and plenty of dominos had to fall along the way en route to his amazing rookie season.
But Hill may be able to find a niche role within this offense as early as next year. Matt LaFleur loves having plenty of running backs, and that was evident last year. It’s a top-heavy running back group in terms of depth and talent, but there’s genuine optimism that Hill could start as the third running back on the depth chart, especially in the latter stages of the season. AJ Dillon had his breakout game on a Sunday night in late December against the Tennessee Titans.
Green Bay appears to have gotten incredible value with Hill by taking him in Round 7. Had he gone in Rounds 4 or 5, nobody would’ve batted an eye. As the draft dragged on, Hill’s name was constantly being brought up as one that the experts were surprised was still available. The hope for the Packers is that he will have the opportunity to showcase that he can be that bulldog runner in Titletown.