The Lass Word: Kylin Hill's Fall Could Be Big Lift for Pack

Running back was the biggest steal in Packers' draft.

You dial up the video on running back Kylin Hill.  You watch him take a handoff, burst through a hole over left guard, and cut to the near sideline where a cornerback with a perfect angle awaits him to make the tackle.  Instead, Hill springs into a hurdler position and leaps completely over the defender and continues down field for a 22 yard gain. 

 

Then, first and goal from the five yard line, Hill takes the ball straight up the gut and meets a linebacker twice his size at the two.  Hill lowers his shoulder and drives the defender backward into the end zone with him.   A few plays later, Hill takes a handoff on a play that fools nobody.  Five defensive players are in the backfield.  Each one makes contact with the ball carrier.  Hill keeps his legs churning and his body twisting until he has broken all five tackles and surges forward for a ten yard gain.  Then you see him circle out of the backfield over the middle where the quarterback throws him a ball that is too high.  Hill rockets into the air, snags the pass with two hands away from his body, and continues down the field for a substantial gain. 

 

You watch these highlights for several minutes, then you go to the stats.  1,350 yards rushing and ten touchdowns as a junior in the Southeastern Conference.  The SEC mind you!  Playing against the best defenses in college football.  As a senior he set a school record by catching 15 passes in a single game against defending national champion LSU.  Yes, you watch the video and look at the stats, and there’s only one huge question on your mind: 

 

How the heck was this guy still available with the 256th pick in the 7th round of the NFL draft? 

 

Apparently, Brian Gutekunst was wondering the same thing.  “We were surprised to see him on the board that late and kind of holding our breath in the seventh round.”  

 

After being first team All SEC his junior year, many draft gurus were projecting him to be about a third round prospect, or at the least, fourth or fifth round.  But by the end of his senior year, his stock had dropped precipitously.  What happened? 

 

Well, to begin with, a coaching change happened.  Despite Hill’s outstanding junior season, Mississippi State fired head coach Joe Moorhead after the Bulldogs went 6-7.  In came the master of the “Air Raid” offense, Mike Leach.  That was pretty much the end of running the football.  Through the first three games of 2020, Hill carried the ball just 15 times.  Leach wanted to throw the pigskin all over the stadium, and that did not sit well with his star running back.  The frustration seemed to come to a boil after a 20-2 loss to Kentucky.  Hill was suspended for one game after a reported “outburst” in the locker room.  No further details of the incident were made public.  It was widely speculated that Hill and the coaching staff were at odds, and that rift seemed to be confirmed when Hill then decided to opt out of the remainder of his senior season. 

 

Via Twitter, Hill said his decision was not based on a dispute with the coaches but rather concern over Covid 19.  He posted "2020 has been an unprecedented year, filled with uncertainty due to a pandemic that has forced all of us to adapt as best as possible.  With that, and after much prayer and discussion with my family, I have decided to opt out for the remainder of the season and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft. This has been an incredibly difficult decision, but one that I feel is best for me at this time."  

 

Was his opt-out the reason for his fall in the draft?  There were other concerns.  He missed a few games with ankle injuries and a concussion.  Pro Football Network analyzed Hill this way:  “Athletically, Kylin Hill is a mixed bag. His explosiveness and quickness are here and there. Just check out the beauty that is Hill’s dead-leg cut to see those two traits. 

However, there is no second gear with Hill. He lacks that breakaway speed to take it to the house at any given point. That makes him a weapon that can create some yardage, but not a home run threat in any way. It extends to the receiving game, too.” 

 

So, let’s see.  Kylin Hill is a power runner with limited speed who is physical enough to get you tough, short yardage first downs or goal line touchdowns, and catches the ball well out of the backfield.  Does that remind you of any recent Packers?  If Jamaal Williams pops into your mind, bingo!  Hill’s skill set seems a replica of what number 30 had been doing for the green and gold until he left to sign with Detroit this offseason. 

 

With the number three running back slot wide open heading into training camp, Hill’s opportunity is obvious.  I think he was a tremendous steal in the seventh round.  I also believe he will see significant playing time.  Running backs take a terrific beating in this league.  There will be injuries and games missed by the backs ahead of him, especially when you consider the season has been expanded to 17 games.  Starter Aaron Jones has played every game in a season only once, missing ten games total through his first four years.  Gutekunst thinks Kylin has a definite niche he can fill.  “We were excited to get him.  He’s a very talented individual.....he’s an explosive athlete as a runner, catches the ball pretty well, and he may be able to add some special teams value as well.” 

 

Also encouraging is the fact that Green Bay assistant Luke Getsy was the offensive coordinator at State during Hill’s superlative junior year.  If Getsy can get that kind of season out of him in college, what might he be able to accomplish in the versatile LaFleur offense?   At one point during the Green Bay rookie camp, Hill made an impressive diving catch.  Afterward he told the media “I’m very confident in my hands.  I believe I can make any catch possible.” 

 

The Columbus, Mississippi native should also feel right at home with the Packers.  He is close friends with fellow Mississippi State alums Elgton Jenkins and Preston Smith, both of whom have sort of taken Hill under their wing. 

 

After studying all the pros and cons, it’s still a head scratcher for me as to why Kylin Hill fell so far in the draft, but Packer fans should be happy he did.  His drop may be just the lift the Packers need.   

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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12 points

Comments (50)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 20, 2021 at 03:14 pm

Another similarity with Jamaal Williams: neither Kylin nor Jamaal have had a fumble in the NFL yet.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

May 20, 2021 at 03:37 pm

Hopefully this similarity ends on Sep-20-2021.

I like Jamaal Williams, but looking forward to his first fumble as a Lion against the Packers :)

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wildbill's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:08 pm

Actually I hope Williams has a great game and we beat the lions 49-0.

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wildbill's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:08 pm

Actually I hope Williams has a great game and we beat the lions 49-0.

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Coldworld's picture

May 20, 2021 at 03:59 pm

I like Hill, I think he is a great pick up. Realistically though, I don’t see him getting a lot of snaps without injury to Jones or perhaps Dillon (though they might go to Taylor or another then). I’m hoping Jones and Dillon are healthy.

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Leatherhead's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:06 pm

Last year, Jones and Williams got most of the carries. Dillon got 43 and half of them were n one game. Ervin got 13.

Barring injuries, I don’t see Hill having much of an impact this year.

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BrettGB's picture

May 20, 2021 at 09:39 pm

That's the thing, injuries. There will likely be many times when either Jones or Dillon are not able to play, and if and when that happens Hill will make a difference if he is indeed the 3rd guy. Dillon missed a good part of the season with Covid last year as well.

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dblbogey's picture

May 20, 2021 at 11:08 pm

But, there are sure to be injuries, even if they are fairly lucky. You definitely need a quality #3 RB.

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nostradanus's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:26 pm

Hill sure does look like a steal as most 7th round picks are usually athletic flyers not proven productive SEC guys.

He’s physical, shows soft hands catching the ball, doesn’t fumble and looks like a no nonsense one cut back.

The thing he’s going to have to work on is pass-pro and keeping his feet while driving through tackles (not always trying to hurdle over)

Between P. Taylor, M. Weber, D. Williams and K. Hill it should be an extremely competitive camp for the #3 and #4 RB spots (#4 probably being a PS spot)

Starting next week
Let the competition begin!

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greengold's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:41 pm

Pretty exciting, nostradanus.

Guessing we will probably keep 4 RBs on the 53, given the amount of rushing we will probably do this season, and WOW! That is a very deep 4 with Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Patrick Taylor Jr. and Kylin Hill. WOW!

Maybe TE might be a bigger place for battles, as we possibly pull the extra RB spot from that group this year.

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nostradanus's picture

May 21, 2021 at 08:57 am

The Tight Ends are an excellent group too G&G.
Big dog, the best blocking tight end in the NFL. Tonyan, who I believe led the NFL in tight end touchdowns last year. Sternberger, who I don’t think they’re going to give up on as he is on his rookie contract and he has lots of potential. Deguara, Showed last year that he was going to be a big part of the Offense as an H back. And Dominique Daphney who was a findLast season and it’s really good on special teams also. I’m glad the NFL has expanded the 53 to 55 roster and a more liberal practice squad because I don’t want the Packers to get rid of any of these guys and I don’t think they will.

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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:00 am

I think that’s reasonably likely as Funchess can do Move TE things and we have Deguara and a back up for the H Back role. Sternberger is going to have to stay healthy and put it together as a catcher and blocker.

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ImaPayne's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:47 pm

we don't need 4 rbs.

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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:03 am

Depends on how much they intend 2 back sets, whether they see Rodgers as a viable carrier and how much catching they want Jones to do. If Dillon were out, I’d want a Taylor type back to keep the balance if lightning and thunder. I certainly don’t rule out 4 with the space coming from the TE/WR group potentially.

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dobber's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:42 am

I don't anticipate them carrying a true FB this year with Deguara (and maybe Dafney) around, so I think you're right...with the question being, do they carry a second Deguara-type instead of an extra RB?

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flackcatcher's picture

May 21, 2021 at 10:56 am

Not that many true FB left in the league. Both Deguara and Dafney are true offense hybrids in Lafleur scheme. The downside is, as we saw last year, this offense gets real limited without an F-Back and a slot to provide motion. If the Packers are going to tilt more to the run game, that should limit the damage. But it all depends on who's under center this year. (strange to be writing that)

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dobber's picture

May 21, 2021 at 12:29 pm

I betcha Dallas will have one... ;)

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ImaPayne's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:45 pm

sounds like he may be too slow for the NFL, plus injury prone and ergo 31 teams passed. why waste a pick and spend time and capital on someone like him. he is not an athletic specimin

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dobber's picture

May 20, 2021 at 07:40 pm

Productive college back in "the best" conference. Decent athlete. Forty time (4.51) is better than average for a RB.

https://relativeathleticscores.com/ras-information/?PlayerID=18354

Only missed a couple games as a sophomore due to a hammy. Opted out of 2020.

https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/kylin-hill-1.html

For a 7th round pick, he reads pretty well.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 20, 2021 at 09:14 pm

A 7th rounder and ST’s player is not exactly a big risk.

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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:06 am

He’s fractionally faster than Jones, but not as sudden or shifty (few are). He’s a little bigger and stronger. He’s not slow. He has the speed but he won’t make space on a dime like Jones can. Give him a yard or two and he’s impressive though.

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mbpacker's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:46 pm

Yeah, like what I see in Hill. He will have to compete for the 3rd back role though.

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packmann's picture

May 20, 2021 at 04:53 pm

Thanks Ken! I agree that this kid was a steal! It sounds like he proved his worth rushing against SEC defenses during 2018 and 2019. Missing most of last year means he's coming in healthy and strong with plenty of tread still left on the tires. Pound the rock! Go Pack!

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Barazinho's picture

May 20, 2021 at 05:04 pm

He's quicker than Jamal Williams - i have never seen him do it, nor seen anyone use the word "jump cut" for Williams. I'll bet he's also the Tyler Ervin backup behind Amari Rodgers too (so they don't lose a whole section of playbook if/when he gets injured).

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 21, 2021 at 07:41 am

One of my questions is whether Tyler Ervin has a spot on the roster this year? Going to be very competitive at his position. Maybe ST's keeps him around?

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Lphill's picture

May 21, 2021 at 08:31 am

He signed somewhere else or was in the process.

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nostradanus's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:01 am

Ervin It’s not on the roster anymore, he’s been trying out with different teams. They brought in Rodgers for that role.

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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:11 am

The dark horse there is Gaither. Can carry if required as well as running slot routes. I can see him making a push for the last receiver. Also returns so could be back up there (or even primary on kicks). One I will be watching in camp definitely.

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packer132's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:16 am

Ervin is a free agent, and doubt if Packers sign him.

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egbertsouse's picture

May 20, 2021 at 05:06 pm

I love this time of year. Every rookie is a future HOFer and guys who haven't played one NFL snap are going to be huge contributors. Hope springs eternal.

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BrettGB's picture

May 21, 2021 at 02:49 am

Hey, we're undefeated after all. :)

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

May 21, 2021 at 07:44 am

It is a mixed bag though as it relates to Love. Many think he will be no good, or bad if he plays this year. No doubt much of this is because of wanting Rodger's back.

5 points
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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:14 am

For many Rodgers is as much the franchise as Favre was for others. Difficult choices and emotions. The whole Favre thing sticks with me as a reminder of how invested in an individual some otherwise rational people can be, to the point of seeming unreason and personal grief.

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Turophile's picture

May 20, 2021 at 07:05 pm

As I have said elsewhere on CHTV, he's the guy I liked the most of this years draft picks...............and since RBs can sometimes make an impact in their rookie years I have hope for him even this year.

6 points
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greengold's picture

May 20, 2021 at 08:59 pm

“The most,” Turo? Wow! He’s a great player. No doubt. I like how quickly Hill gets north/south, then ZOOM!

2 points
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Turophile's picture

May 20, 2021 at 10:35 pm

Relative to where he was drafted, yes. After him it was Amari Rodgers, then T.J.Slaton, then Stokes/Myers/Jean-Charles all about equal, with McDuffie, Newman, Van Lanen bringing up the rear (in other words I don't think those last three do anything...........but I hope they prove me wrong).

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greengold's picture

May 21, 2021 at 05:50 am

I liked the Royce Newman pick a lot. Seems like one of those guys who could get the job done right now if pressed into duty. I get that Bakhtiari rookie vibe from this kid.

Really wanted WR Dazz Newsome & CB Israel Mukuamu or CB Tay Gowan at 214 & 220. OT Larnel Coleman seemed a better OT prospect, to me. Both Newsome & Mukuamu were both super serious draft crushes for me. Newsome, in my eyes, is the 2nd coming of Freeman. Him going to the Bears hurts. Mukuamu is a 6-3 CB/S ballhawk who went to the Cowboys. Thought he would make a great fit on this D. I was stymied after our R6.

McDuffie was likely selected to replace Ty Summers or Oren Burks on STs. The need to upgrade ST was/is undeniably urgent. Especially for KR/PR COVERAGE units arguably the worst in the NFL.

Van Lanen is a pure zone blocking LT from a proven BIG10 program v. Coleman from U Mass, and he blocked effectively for Jonathan Taylor.

I really love all of our picks R1-5. Seems like they might have gotten both R6 in UDFA. Tough for me to pick a favorite from that top 3. They are rock solid. Love that Hill pick too, along with maybe a couple steals in Slaton & Jean-Charles.

2 points
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Guam's picture

May 21, 2021 at 08:21 am

I like the Van Lanen pick, but not as a LT in the pros. I think he moves to guard or maybe RT in a MLF offense. Wisconsin OL tend to do well in the pros because their fundamentals are always so solid, but Van Lanen doesn't have the quick feet needed for LT.

3 points
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nostradanus's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:05 am

Solid draft for the Packers, it’s hard to have a sexy draft when you were drafting number 29 and number 62. The only questionable pic I saw was when they drafted Newman over Nixon the defensive tackle, I wasn’t happy about that. However, Newman looks like he will fit right in. He’s a country boy and has a sweet redneck mullet.

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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:17 am

I though Dazz was an intriguing if high risk choice, but late day 3. He got massively over drafted in my opinion.

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greengold's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:27 am

Dazz Newsome went R6, the pick immediately following our Van Lanen selection at 221.

Are you thinking of WR Dez Fitzpatrick? He went R4... 109 to the Titans.

Or are you thinking of ILB Chazz Surratt? R3 pick 78 to Vikings?

1 points
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dobber's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:58 am

"Van Lanen is a pure zone blocking LT from a proven BIG10 program v. Coleman from U Mass, and he blocked effectively for Jonathan Taylor."

Wow...I think you have a lot more faith in Van Lanen than I do. I see him almost exclusively as a power guard in the NFL. Maybe he can play some RT, but I think he's pretty much a G-only player. I actually think Dietzen is the better player and might beat him for a roster spot, if we're guessing on this year's noobs.

A lot of Jonathan Taylor's production was a function of Jonathan Taylor.

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greengold's picture

May 21, 2021 at 10:12 am

Yeah. Just going by his history playing LT.

I get the NFL.com "debilitating lack of length" comment, somewhat, for a guy 6-4 with 33 3/8" arms...? They failed to say the same about Tevin Jenkins, who by a number of reports has arms that are 1/4" shorter.

Admittedly, I don't watch the Badgers a ton. Living here in Wisco you can't help but watch them, and a bunch of my nieces/nephews graduated from or are attending UW Madison. My alma mater is Arizona State University. I'm more of a PAC12 Sun Devil.

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PackfanNY's picture

May 20, 2021 at 07:26 pm

Don’t get me wrong I love the pick. In all fairness Hill was drafted near his projection by scouts as a 6 or 7th rounder. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Lance Zierlein’s scouting report.

https://www.nfl.com/prospects/kylin-hill/32004849-4c48-0153-173d-a74e02a...

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:22 am

Pauline had him possibly going in round 3 despite noting issues as well as advantages. I tend to give more credence to that and other mid round predictions.

I and most commentators thought he was outstanding value on paper where we got him. I think he improves our depth and gives us a dual threat back up to work with.

3 points
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PackfanNY's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:56 am

Oh no doubt. there is not “universal” agreement what a guys value is. That’s why we have the draft. Again I love the pick and for what the Packers need is this looks like a great pick.

Just pointing out that the idea that “he feel” in the draft was “surprising” might be a little overstated. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is true with the draft as well. Some had him projected EXACTLY where he landed. We will find out if Gute was right or not. Time will tell.

2 points
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PackfanNY's picture

May 21, 2021 at 09:57 am

*fell* not feel.

2 points
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stockholder's picture

May 21, 2021 at 10:27 am

Truthfully, I think this was Gute's smartest pick.

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dobber's picture

May 21, 2021 at 10:29 am

**spit-take**

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Stroh's picture

May 23, 2021 at 05:46 pm

Hill could provide a big lift IF Jones gets hurt! Otherwise his role will be pretty insignificant!

1 points
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