Editor’s Note: The season is just beginning for DLF! We continue our 2019 Early Look series today as the new year really puts our rookie coverage into high gear. Enjoy all we have to offer in the upcoming months and thanks to all of you for making DLF the world’s number one dynasty fantasy football site.
AS A RECRUIT
Justice Hill was a three-star prospect from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He went to school at Booker T. Washington where he rushed for 1,426 yards and 22 touchdowns during his junior season and 1,858 yards and 30 touchdowns while averaging 10.27 yards per carry during his senior year. During his senior season, his outstanding play helped lead his team to the state semifinals. He also competed in track and field.
Throughout the recruiting process, 247Sports ranked Hill as the 18th-best all-purpose back on their board. They also had him rated as the ninth-best player out of the state of Oklahoma. He received offer letters from Houston, Kansas, and Louisville before signing his letter of intent with the Oklahoma Cowboys on February 3, 2016.
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Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com.
Hill started his career with a bang, rushing for 122 yards and one touchdown when he made his first start against the Baylor Bears in week four. He had six games with 100 yards rushing or more. Not to mention he was the first Oklahoma State freshman to surpass 1,000 yards in a single season while also leading all FBS freshman in rushing.
The good times kept rolling into his sophomore season where he had eight games with over 100 yards rushing. His best game came against Oklahoma where he rushed for 228 yards and two touchdowns. His 1,467 yards ranked second in the nation amongst FBS sophomores behind Devin Singletary and it was enough to make him the Big 12’s rushing leader for 2017. According to PFF, he finished the season with 786 yards after contact while forcing 55 missed tackles. Hill caught 31 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown, proving that he can hold a prominent role in the passing game. After his sophomore season, he was named First Team All-Big 12 and was a Doak Walker Award Finalist.
A rib injury prevented Hill from reaching his full potential during his junior season. He still managed to rush for 930 yards and nine touchdowns while surpassing the 100-yard-mark five times. Hill was very efficient while running the football, rushing for 5.9 yards per carry with 23 percent of his carries going for eight yards or more. His best game came against Kansas where he rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He had 450 yards after contact, ranking fourth in the Big 12. Again injuries stifled his production, causing him to catch just 13 passes for 68 yards. He was targeted on seven percent of the passes and he averaged four yards per target.
He finished his career at Oklahoma State seventh all-time in rushing and just 17 yards away from tying Barry Sanders for sixth all-time. He was also eighth all-time in rushing touchdowns (30) and eighth all-time in yards from scrimmage (3,843). Nonetheless, he had a very impressive career at Oklahoma State.
His ownership of Oklahoma State’s offensive production was diluted by one of the most explosive passing attacks in the nation. Keep in mind, James Washington and Marcel Ateman combined for 2,472 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns in 2017, making it very hard for Hill to grasp a large command of the offensive production. The fact that he was able to earn a 22.26 percent market share and a 22.35 percent dominator rating during his sophomore season is very impressive. Like I previously stated, he missed some time due to an injury which impacted his statistical output. Chris Carson was also in the mix back in 2016, preventing Hill from fully breaking out during his freshman season. There were a lot of roadblocks in his career that prevented him from compiling elite level production.
Testing results courtesy of ESPN.com
He is currently listed at 5’10’’ and 190-pounds. His size isn’t a deal-breaker but it’s going to be a factor at the next level. The odds of him being a full-time three-down back are slim to none. That means he will more than likely need to carve a role as a change-of-pace back. During the recruiting process, he tested with a 4.51 40-yard dash. When it comes time to run at the Combine, he should produce a much better time. The big takeaway from his testing is his 41.3 vertical jump which implies he has a lot of power in his legs, allowing him to accelerate quickly with a lot of burst while running with the football.
Hill might not be the fastest player in this year’s draft but he definitely has enough speed to get the job done. What’s most impressive is how quickly he can switch gears and gain speed. He runs with a lot of juice in his legs which makes him very elusive once he hits the second level of the defense. Due to the lack of size, he has trouble building up enough inertia at the point of contact, making it easier for defenders to tackle him. He should see limited use as a between-the-tackles grinder at the next level.
- Runs with purpose
- Solid receiver
- Lacks power at the point of contact
- Doesn’t have the prototypical size of a three-down back
- A tad stiff in the hips
Walter Football has him being selected anywhere in the second to third rounds of the draft. With the depth of the running back class being very shallow, I can see him making a case to be a top-100 pick. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he falls into the fourth or fifth round either. There aren’t many teams who are in need of a running back. The consensus around the league is that running backs are a dime a dozen which plays into the premiums of rookie and free agent running backs on the open market.
Next year’s running back class will also be more talented. If you’re planning ahead, then you are more likely going to want to take shots at the 2020 class compared to what you will have on the board this year. With all that being said, it’s going to be hard for an NFL team to want to pull the trigger on him early knowing he will more than likely won’t contribute as their three-down back.
The offensive landscape is changing and more than ever, situational pass-catching backs can thrive in fantasy football. He has the potential to play the Tarik Cohen role for an NFL team. Philadelphia seems like a simple fit for him. Darren Sproles is on the way out. They recently tried their hand with Donnel Pumphrey and that didn’t work. The Eagles aren’t afraid of switching out running backs and a change-of-pace back who can help the offense in the passing game could add an extra dimension to the offense. That’s just one scenario that could play out for him. Hill just needs to go to a team that will use him in the passing game and has a competitive passing attack.
Like most draft prospects, his dynasty value is going to be strictly dependent on what team drafts him and where he goes in the draft. The higher the draft capital, the higher the promise. If he does get drafted in rounds two through three, then we could see his stock hover around the early second-round range. However, his expectations will significantly decrease if he falls in the draft and goes to a team with a lackluster offense. He will have his backers during draft season, but it’s very important to stay objective and take everything into account when it comes to analyzing his long-term player value.
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