Kenny Hilliard is build more like a fullback, as he has a squat frame, thick upper body with broad shoulder, good chest definition, wide bubble, thick calves and thighs. He plays at a low pad level and is an above average downhill runner, but he does not have the elite speed or burst to bring much value as an outside runner.
Hilliard gets into the holes quick enough, but he more valuable as a short area runner, as he does not appear to have the sustained speed to consistently threaten past the second level. Working in goal-line situations, he’s accounted for 27 touchdowns, all coming within the red zone. When he aligns closer to the goal-line, he appears to generate a quicker surge up the hole and on contact before the defense can recover.
Hilliard shows good balance running between tackles, but when he is captured for a loss in the backfield, it is usually on plays on the perimeter. He lacks sudden moves to fool a defender and escape that man in the open field. The best thing about him is that he is a downhill runner, but there will be stretches where he just does not anticipate or read the blocks in front of him. He runs into spots at times and will miss a cutback lane.
Because of his downhill running stride, he is not going to show much bounce or slide at the line of scrimmage. With his hard charge and aggression, he can usually catch a defender off-guard more often. He stays low in his pads with shoulders square, absorbing big hits, but has the leg drive and body lean to fall forward. With his pads low, he has very good success breaking arm tackles.
Unless it is on the pitch-out, Hilliard is not utilized much as an outside runner. He has the feet to attack the cutback lane, but does not do it consistently to excel going vs. the grain. He looks sluggish getting out of the gate when taking the traditional handoff to impact to the edge. For some reason, he has yet to learn how to square up and get up field better.
Hilliard has adequate hands on the pitch, but has had limited receiving opportunities. When he does get balls thrown to him in the second level, he is more apt to body catch that extend outside his frame. If used at all on passing situations, it has been on screens and flares. You can see his lack of flexibility and where those short arms and small hands are going to be a liability here. He tends to look for the ball too late and looks sluggish when he has to get into his patterns.
Hilliard can be a violent hitter as a lead blocker, but he has to stay lower in his pads. When he gets upright, he is more of a pester type who can either be walked back or see his man slip off to attack the quarterback. He is an efficient cut blocker, but with a lack of speed to consistently stalk second level defenders, his value is more as a blocker who can widen rush lanes or sit back and protect the pocket from edge rushers.
Kenny Hilliard Scouting Combine measurables
6-0/226 (4.83 forty)
31 1/4-inch arm length
9 1/4-inch hands
27-inch vertical jump
111-inch broad jump
7.17 3 cone drill
4.40 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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