Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
LaMichael James is the running back Jim Schwartz wants as insurance for Jahvid Best, but if the Lions try to get him in the third, they may be too late to the prom.
But alas, just like the high school right of passage, there are other fish in the sea, and Ronnie Hillman is a terrific runner-up.
In his freshman year, Hillman broke Marhsall Faulk’s freshman rushing record with 1,532 yards on the ground and followed that up with 1,711 yards as a sophomore, setting the new WAC conference single-season rushing record.
At 5’9" and 190 pounds, his slight frame was a concern, but Ronnie yoked up for the combine, putting on 11 additional pounds and still flew like the wind.
Posting a 4.45 in the 20 plus a 37” vertical, both fourth-best amongst running backs, Hillman showed everybody he can bulk up and still be one of the most athletic running backs in this year’s class.
His running style is perfect for what the Lions offense presents.
He’s quick to the outside with tremendous burst and has terrific lateral agility to bounce the play when the hole is not there—a necessity for all Lions running backs.
Surprisingly, he is also a patient runner. He can pick his way through the interior of the line and will stick his nose into a blitzing linebacker and cut him when necessary.
Hillman rarely caught the ball out of the backfield in college, collecting only 33 receptions over two years, but don’t let that be a red flag. Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders didn’t catch too many balls when they were at Oklahoma State, and both caught the ball well in the flats at the professional level.
With only two years' collegiate experience, Hillman is inexperienced, but so was LeSean McCoy, and I think that’s turned out rather nicely for Philadelphia.
The Lions are hopeful Mikel Leshoure will still be their thunder, but lighting is what makes this offense scary. When Best was out of the lineup, the offense wasn't the same; having another home run hitter in waiting will keep the offense explosive even with another injury to Best.