Ronnie Hillman

Draft Grades: Denver Broncos

By signing Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos gave themselves a three-year window in which they can make a serious run at the Super Bowl. But their selections in this draft class raise some questions about the direction this franchise is headed.

Derek Wolfe was a reach in the early 2nd round. John Fox was clearly looking for a penetrating three-technique tackle but, while Wolfe is a decent athlete for his size, he lacks the consistency to warrant such a high pick. He’ll be plugged into a starting role immediately, but I question his ability to be effective. There were better options, such as Kendall Reyes, on the board.

The Brock Osweiler selection baffles me. For starters, it’s a reach in the 2nd round. He is a purely developmental prospect who needs significant work on this motion and his decision making ability. But what really concerns me is that fact that the Broncos used an early pick on Manning’s replacement when they could have added a playmaker to help Manning in his pursuit of of Super Bowl title.

The selection of Ronnie Hillman has drawn criticism from some, but I’m on board with the pick. Yes, there were better running backs still on the board, but the Broncos weren’t looking for starter here. They’re comfortable with another season of Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, meaning Hillman will be relied upon as a change-of-pace back, and he’s more than capable of filling that role.

Omar Bolden is an injury risk, but I like the gamble in the 4th round. If healthy, he has an excellent chance to win the nickel corner job and could develop into a quality starter down the road.

Phillip Blake will be given an opportunity to compete with J.D. Walton for the starting job at center. And if Walton’s performance from 2011 continues, Blake will have an excellent chance to win the job. He could prove to be a steal in the 4th round.

Malik Jackson is another prospect who could prove to be a late-round steal. I only had him rated slightly lower than Derek Wolfe, and two prospects are similar in many ways. He primarily played both tackle and end at Tennessee, but is better suited to stay inside in Denver’s 4-3 defense.

Danny Trevathan was a playmaker at Kentucky and an extremely productive collegiate linebacker. However, he’s undersized and lacks the athleticism to make up for it. His upside is limited, but he has a decent chance to make the Broncos roster based on his potential to contribute on special teams.

Overall, this was a disappointing haul for the Broncos. They didn’t make too many extreme reaches, but they also failed to add immediate help for Manning. Even if Osweiler proves to be the heir apparent to Manning, if they won’t win during the Manning era, we’ll have to wonder if they missed an opportunity to upgrade the talent around him with that selection.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Draft Grades - 2012 2 Comments

Ronnie Hillman scouting report

Ronnie Hillman RB San Diego State #13
Ht: 5’10″Wt: 190  
Strengths:
Elite breakaway speed. Extremely elusive in the open field. Elite quickness and change-of-direction ability. Stop-and-start ability is impressive; gets up to full speed incredibly fast. Does an excellent job making himself small to squeeze through holes when running between the tackles. Appears to have great vision; usually quick to adjust when a hole closes and isn’t shy about improvising when the designed play breaks down. Excellent receiver out of the backfield, with some experience lining up wide.
Weaknesses:
Slightly undersized. Goes down quickly once wrapped up; won’t be able to consistently break tackles at the next level. Fumbles have been an issue at times; needs to do a better job of keeping the ball secured and not exposing himself to big hits as frequently. Occasionally indecisive in the backfield; will dance around looking for a hole, rather than simply taking what’s given to him. Gives a reasonable effort in pass protection, but doesn’t have the size or strength to be effective. Missed time with a sprained ankle in 2011. Only two years of experience (turned pro to provide for his two-year-old son).
Comments:
Hillman is a prototypical third-down back. He doesn’t have the size to carry the full load, but has all the tools necessary to excel as a backup in the right system. He would be a great fit for a team with a power running back looking to add a change-of-pace back to the system.
Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Comments Off