Name: Justice Hill
SCHOOL: Oklahoma State
CONFERENCE: Big 12
POSITION: Running Back
JERSEY: No. 5
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 190 lbs
Feet – Springy and smooth change of direction skills. Capable of making sharp cuts in tight quarters. Width on jump and lateral cuts is exceptional. Knows how to attack creases to maximize output. Runs with an understanding of how to set up tacklers to make it difficult for them to come to balance and create opportunities to win after contact.
Vision – Makes good, aggressive decisions with the football but can be over zealous at times. Took advantage of light boxes in college. Always has a plan with the ball and has good vision in the hole to set up his next move. Has exceptional spatial awareness to minimize big hits.
Pass Protection – More effective than expected given his stature and his effort is consistently outstanding. Does well to frame rushers, sink his hips and absorb contact. Has a good feel for where to step up and help. Size will lead to some limitations but the way he competes is impressive.
Receiving – Should be a major component of his NFL utilization. Impressive route running skills that should make him a difficult cover for linebackers in space. Fluid hips and ability to turn make crisp cuts lead to easy separation. Hands are fairly consistent but cannot be categorized as great.
Balance – Runs from a balanced base and executes his cuts with exceptional timing. Is able to get incredible width in his cuts with outstanding body control. Sustains himself extremely well through contact for his size. Outstanding ability to string together moves.
Elusiveness – Routinely forces missed tackles on account of his agility and elusive traits. Has excellent flexibility throughout his frame to turn tight angles. Has plenty of juice and wiggle that leads to yards after contact and whiffs in space. Uncanny ability to get himself out of trouble and to make tacklers miss in the hole.
Power – He’s a highly competitive runner but out-muscling opponents isn’t his calling card. While he has a knack for finding space, counting on him to move piles and win with leg drive in short yardage isn’t his forte. Has enough power for his style.
Competitive Toughness – Carries the ball with purpose and knows how to spin and wiggle out of tackles. Willing to battle for extra yards along the sideline instead of going out of bounds. Attention to detail when he isn’t getting the ball on a given play is obvious.
Versatility – Has every down playmaking upside. Is able to contribute effectively as a receiver and blocker on passing downs. Effective inside and outside runner, although short yardage isn’t his calling card. Has not be tasked with return duties in college.
BEST TRAIT – Elusiveness
WORST TRAIT – Power
RED FLAGS – None
Hill’s ability to see the field, manipulate the second level and attack creases combined with his exceptional elusive traits makes him and ideal runner in a zone-heavy scheme. He offers considerable upside as a receiver and is reliable in pass pro, making him an option for every down. Hill should immediately factor into his NFL team’s rotation as a complementary back with the upside to be the focal point of the rushing attack by year three.
Vision -Shows effective understanding of pressing into the gap and allowing his blocks to develop. Can put himself in a hole with excessive cuts, needs to be more willing to hit doubles instead of home runs. Worked with a lot of thin boxes, will require time to acclimate to higher box #s.
Feet/Change of Direction –Feet are light, nimble and show effective quickness, even with trash on the ground. Has some awesome reps to start/stop and generate a rushing angle in the backfield. Hard jump cuts are present and effective to vacate space and quickly find a bubble at the POA.
Durability –Endured rib injury at the end of junior season and missed final 3 games, no health issues otherwise. Has a leaner frame and isn’t going to be a back to pound carries between the tackles and wear out defenders late in games.
Balance –Shows strong ability to reset the feet and bound in and out of traffic. Offers some admirable contact balance and thanks to foot quickness is able to recollect himself if not challenged with a wrap up tackle.
Pass Protection –Surprisingly pleasant results when left in to protect. Frames his blocks well when stepping up on to the edge and offers enough anchor and space to buy his passer time. Shows good pad level and pop to absorb initial blows.
Elusiveness –Very slippery back in one on one situations. Puts head up tacklers in a bind thanks to lateral quickness, confident head fakes and an active free arm. Great acceleration out of a cut to break pursuit angles and find open room.
Receiving Ability –Hands are not the softest but has been utilized a lot as a receiving option out of the backfield. Shows good urgency out of chip blocks to press into the flats and work eyes back for the ball. Will set up leveraged linebackers in coverage before accelerating out of breaks.
Short Yardage Skill –Lacks push in the pile and lower body power to have success in short yardage. Runs with aggressiveness and can slash through a gap but isn’t capable of falling forward with consistency as a means of converting tough yardage situations.
Football Intelligence –High volume usage in spurts and is a three year starter. Speed of the game won’t be a problem for a rusher who plays fast, but his lack of exposure to high volume boxes is an area for concern that can inhibit and slow his transition to the NFL.
Effort –Plays hard in all facets, even when selling zone read or RPO action out of the backfield to influence the linebackers. Has made an impact on all three downs and has potential to continue to do so at the NFL level.
PLAYER COMPARISON – Marlon Mack
BEST TRAIT – Elusiveness
WORST TRAIT – Short Yardage Skill
BEST FILM – Oklahoma (2017)
WORST FILM – Iowa State (2018)
RED FLAGS – 2018 rib INJ
Justice Hill projects as a potential feature rusher at the NFL level. Hill illustrates high end lateral quickness and cut ability, plus a diverse attack in the open field to put defenders in a bind. Hill needs to cut down on the greedy plays, he’s guilty of overworking his cuts and would be well served to make one cut on the second level and work for gained yardage. Hill will not find much success pushing the pile but teams featuring a lot of inside/outside zone concepts would feature him most effectively.
CONS: Undersized, doesn’t bring a ton of power in his lighter frame. Shaky hands. Can have trouble putting his head down and taking what is there because of smaller size. Not the most elusive runner in the open field despite his balance.
PROS: Fantastic space player. Has nice burst, especially when planting a foot and turning north after pressing line of scrimmage. Does well to maintain velocity through cuts/gentle changes of directions to ‘slalom’ through second level. Has a great knack for making head-up defenders miss/bounce off his lower half — good understanding of space and angles. Lateral agility shows up in a phone booth in a big way: can make backside pursuit miss to open up backdoor. Can run crisp routes out of the backfield, work with scrambling QB with decent awareness, and make hands catches. Willingness in pass protection is nice to see.
CONS: I have vision questions. Seems to come into line of scrimmage and into defenders in space alike without a plan. From behind the line, will preempt his decision on zone flow especially, heavily relying on backside ‘bang’ pathway because of his proclivity in space. Decisions do not seem rooted in analysis of flow/space, but rather just off of instinct. Patience behind the line of scrimmage does not show up on tape for me — seems unwilling to let blockers clear a runway; becomes too urgent. Can’t stop on a dime and needs gather steps for sharp redirection, though step frequency is high enough that there isn’t a huge delay.
Beyond the line, will run into defenders/blockers unnecessarily; does not show the ability to manipulate second-level defenders early in the rep. Ends up kamikaze diving into contact with low pads and nice power from velocity, but is generally ineffective with this strategy given size constraints. Creator’s instinct leads to some big plays, but also leaves yardage out on the field.