The Cincinnati Bengals turned a lot of heads when they drafted LSU running back Jeremy Hill with the 55th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Most people thought the first RB off the board would be Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, however, Hill’s punishing running style fits perfectly with the Bengals plan on doing.
When he was drafted, the immediate rumor was that he would be the second RB on the depth chart. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson left little room for speculation as OTA’s began when he slotted Hill ahead of veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
As we all know, it’s not where you start, but where you finish. It’s obvious now that it’s Hill’s job to lose. I think the addition of Hill allows the Bengals to have one of the most potent running attacks in the NFL.
The Bengals view Hill as someone they can eventually give the ball to 20 times and produce week in and week out. That might be the plan for the future, but they are also working him into a role alongside Giovanni Bernard, with first-team reps during OTA’s.
Hill is a violent runner who will punish those who dare get in his way. He doesn’t have killer speed, but he doesn’t need it being the change-of-pace back to Bernard. While at LSU, Hill notched 2,156 yards on 345 carries for an amazing 6.2 yards per carry. That wasn’t against mediocre talent. Hill had to face pro-level talent every week in the SEC.
There have been concerns about his maturity, as he was arrested multiple times in college. Only he really knows if that part of his life is behind him; he must learn to be a professional and put himself in positions to succeed, not ones that put him in uneasy situations.
Although some people think this spells the end for Green-Ellis, I believe he stays on the team. He might assume a role similar to the one he had with the New England Patriots as their goal-line back. He had two of his best years in 2011 and 2012 as he plowed his way into the end zone a total of 24 times over that span.
There’s no uncertainty in the Bengals’ backfield. Each player will have a role, making their job a little easier. The addition of Hill adds power, versatility, depth and more defined roles, which will each lead to success. Hill will be a vital piece to one of the best running games in 2014.