Everyone knows that we live in a society that wants everything yesterday, and NFL fans are definitely symbolic of that attitude. It’s no different with the fans of the Denver Broncos. It’s especially true with young players who do not produce immediately.
One of the biggest concerns about the Broncos seems to be at the running back position, and I agree to a point. They do need someone who can get the tough, inside yards and pick up those 3rd and short plays that keep drives alive. However that doesn’t mean I am ready to give up on Ronnie Hillman, who is entering his second season. The more I listen to and read, the more it seems I’m in the minority on that opinion.
It’s true that Hillman did not have the rookie season that a lot of people expected but to give up on his talent would be a huge mistake, on the Broncos won’t make even if the fans do.
Hillman was the youngest player in the NFL last year and did struggle with pass protection, and the speed of the game. Both of those things will improve greatly with a season under his belt, and another complete offseason and training camp.
Hillman is never going to be a 20-25 carry back in the league, but that’s not why he was drafted. He was selected to be a change of pace back that could make big plays in the open field, and as a receiver. That’s still the plan for Hillman and fans are going to see a different back in 2013.
Not every player is going to walk into the league and have an instant impact, but that doesn’t mean they are a bust after only one season. As a matter of fact, Hillman was one of the few bright spots in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
After replacing an injured Knowshon Moreno, Hillman ran for 83 yards, and most of those were on inside runs. It’s true that he and the Broncos failed to run the ball when they needed to the most, but again that’s not Hillman’s role. His role is to get the ball in the open field and make big plays.
As for this coming season, I expect big things for the second-year back. Imagine it is 3rd and 4, and the defense somehow manages to cover Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. That’s great but there’s a problem, Hillman is now being covered by a linebacker. Peyton Manning, after scanning the field, dumps the ball off to Hillman who turns a three-yard pass into a 70-yard touchdown. That’s his role.
So when discussing the Broncos situation at running back, it is certainly okay to talk about drafting one but don’t forget about Hillman. He has all the talent in the world and something tells me we are about to see it.
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