Scout's Notebook: RB Lex Hilliard

Vikings add "upsized" running back/fullback for depth in the offensive backfield

Lex Hilliard, RB
(5112, 240, 4.58-4.78) Montana

Notes: Born Lex Douglas Hilliard, July 30, 1984. He attended and played football at Flathead High School in Kalispell, Montana. Set a school record with 1,384 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. Three-time all-state and all-conference selection, as well as team captain his final two seasons. He finished his prep career with 3,419 rushing yards, 4,410 all-purpose yards and 44 touchdowns—all school records. He also earned three letters in track and one in wrestling. He competed in the 100, 200 and 4x100-meter relay and the shot put, earning two all-league selections.

College: Originally destined to redshirt as a freshman in 2003, he ended up finishing ninth in the Big Sky Conference in rushing with 590 yards and also caught 9 passes for 117 yards. In four starts as a sophomore (2004), he rushed for a team-leading 972 yards and 17 touchdowns, caught 22-211, and earned first-team All-Big Sky honors, with five 100-yard rushing games. As a junior (2005), he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award after rushing for 1,322 yards, with six 100-yard rushing performances, including a 237-yard game against Cal Poly. Also caught 11-144-2 as a pass receiver. Redshirted in 2006 with an Achilles tendon injury. He came back to rush for 1,132 yards and 16 touchdowns as a fifth-year senior in 2007, with seven 100-yard outings and 15 receptions for 119 yards. Compiled 4,106 yards rushing (5.0 avg.), 50 touchdowns and caught 57-591-2 during his college career.

Pre-Draft: Measured 5112 (5’-11 ¼”), 234…1.56 10-yard…2.68 20-yard…4.66 40-yard…4.03 short shuttle…6.93 three cone…36 ½-inch vertical jump…10’-3” broad jump.

Pro: Originally drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round (204th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. Signed a four-year contract with the Dolphins on May 19, 2008. He spent the entire 2008 season on Miami’s practice squad. Re-signed by the Dolphins on January 5, 2009, he began to see playing time behind Ricky Williams after Ronnie Brown went down with a foot injury, seeing action in all 16 games with 23 carries for 89 yards (3.9 avg.) and one touchdown, while catching 20-158-2 (7.9 avg.). Played in all 16 games in 2010, mostly on special teams, catching one pass for 3 yards. Started 4-of-16 games played last season and saw 16 carries for 41 yards (2.6 avg.) and one touchdown while catching 5-49.

He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Dolphins following the 2011 season and subeqently signed a one-year contract with the Vikings on March 18, 2012.

Positives: Big, bruising, strong, physical runner who can put his shoulder down and punish defenders. Good athlete for size. Good vision and instincts. Reads blocks nicely. Has some cutback ability. Bursts to daylight, plays fast and runs hard. Good balance and determination. Breaks tackles and keeps fighting for extra yardage. Generally falls forward. Natural pass receiver with good hands and feel for the passing game. Solid blocker who can square up on the blitz pickup and attack defenders in space. Can cover kicks and make a contribution on special teams.

Negatives: Does not have true breakaway speed and can be caught from behind. Not that nifty, fast or elusive. Does not show any truly special qualities as a runner.

Summary: Viewed as a fullback/tailback hybrid, but is really more of a tailback in a fullback’s body. Not that dissimilar to Toby Gerhart in terms of strengths and weaknesses and what he offers. Has some versatility, can wear a defense down, catches the ball well, can block and will contribute on special teams.

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