Without Adrian Peterson, the look of the Minnesota Vikings backfield has undergone significant change already. Peterson is out, still looking for work as a free agent, and was told he isn’t coming back to the Vikings, and Latavius Murray signed a three-year contract to replace him.
However, Murray’s contract is structured such that the Vikings can move on without significant salary-cap ramifications after the 2017 season. In addition, Jerick McKinnon is entering the final year of his rookie contract and veteran Matt Asiata remains unsigned in free agency.
It all adds up to the Vikings likely in search of a running back in the draft, and having at least four of their 30 allowable predraft visits filled by running backs shows their interest there.
One of those that visited, according to the Houston Chronicle, was Wyoming’s Brian Hill. Hill also visited with the Kansas City Chiefs and worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, as well as meeting with many of the teams at the NFL Scouting Combine.
A three-year starter at Wyoming, Hill’s production has increased each year, from 796 yards rushing and a 5.5-yard average as a sophomore to 1,631 yards and a 5.8-yard average as a junior to 1,860 yards and a 5.3-yard average last year. After scoring a combined 13 touchdowns in his first two years as starter, he exploded for 22 in 2016.
“I ran downhill. I had to pass protect,” Hill said of his college days in Cowboys backfield. “I had to do everything an NFL back has to do so I feel like I am prepared for the league.”
He believes his pass protection helps set him apart from other running backs but knows NFL teams want to know what kind of a pass-catcher he can be. He was limited in that are at Wyoming, catching only 41 passes over his final three years.
At 6-foot-1 and 219 pounds, he ran a respectable 4.54 40-yard dash at the Combine, with only one other back at 6 feet or more beating that time and no other back as heavy as him eclipsing it. His other measurables in Indianapolis – 34-inch vertical and 10-foot-5 broad jump among them – also show a well-rounded athlete. That’s one of the reasons he picked out LaDainian Tomlinson as his running back idol, because of his unique style and set of attributes. Hill doesn’t have the pass-catching prowess that Tomlinson possessed, but he might be more physical.
“I wouldn’t say I am as patient as (Pittsburgh’s LeVeon Bell), but I know my O-line well,” Hill said. “I know the blocking schemes and what they are doing on every play. I just try to work off their blocks, really. If their job is to kick someone out, I play off that. That’s probably one of the biggest things about my game. I know my offense well, and I am willing to learn.”
Hill finished as the Cowboys’ all-time leading rusher with 4,287 yards and set the single-season (22) and career rushing touchdowns (35) mark at the school.
NFLDraftScout.com rates Hill as a fourth- or fifth-round value.