Penn State's Jordan Hill is one of many defensive tackles in the 2013 NFL draft class with starting potential.
Third Round: 87th Pick
With a defensive tackle class that may be the strongest of any one position in the 2013 NFL draft class, Penn State's Jordan Hill has been largely overlooked for other defensive tackle prospects with better measurables.
On the field, however, Hill has proven that he brings a very strong product, and he shouldn’t be overlooked for too long during the draft. An agile interior defensive lineman who can make plays as both an interior pass-rusher and run-stopper, Hill has the potential to be a solid NFL starter.
Hill is an explosive interior penetrator who is quick off the snap. While he does not have off-the-charts athleticism, he reacts quickly to the snap, moves his feet very well and is very good with his hands.
Hill is a skilled interior pass-rusher, while he also does a good job of moving along the line and in space to make tackles as a run-stopper. He is a strong tackler.
Hill does not have great power for an interior defensive lineman. He will not overpower opponents with straight-on bull rushes, and he is sometimes driven back and away from plays against the run.
At 6’1”, Hill is short for an NFL defensive tackle. Athletically, Hill’s 5.23-second 40-yard dash and 22” vertical jump are subpar numbers, but while he does not have the best raw athleticism, he makes up for it with quick snap reactions and very good feet, which he moves well both in straight pursuit and laterally along the line of scrimmage.
(All measurables via NFL Scouting Combine results at NFL.com)
Hill displays a very good motor on the field, as he consistently hustles and gets some of his tackles by working his way back into the play after being initially blocked. All indications are that Hill is a high-character person off the field, as he has no documented off-field issues.
Hill worked as both a 1-technique nose tackle and 3-technique defensive tackle on the interior of Penn State’s four-man defensive front last season. He has been productive from both spots, both against the pass and the run, though his foot skills and penetration ability make him a more natural fit for the 3-technique spot.
Hill is a very effective interior pass-rusher. He does a good job anticipating and getting a good jump off the snap, and then he is good at using his hands to beat blockers quickly in one-on-one situations. Once free, Hill has the athleticism to track down quarterbacks back in the pocket with pressure or force them out of the pocket.
He is not much of a bull rusher, as he does not drive blockers back in the pocket. His quickness and ability to disengage, however, make him a player who can quickly break free from blockers and put heat on a passer.
Against the Run
Hill’s foot skills are a huge asset against the run, as he does a great job of moving laterally along the line of scrimmage to fill gaps and make run stops. He does a very good job of making tackles at or near the line of scrimmage, as he moves well to get in position to make stops, continues to position himself for stops even when he is driven back off the line and is a strong tackler.
Hill’s biggest weakness in the run game is his power, as he tends to get driven back by bigger, stronger linemen. That said, he makes plays in the backfield with his ability to quickly penetrate, and he does a great job filling gaps even back up off the line.
Hill is a defensive lineman who tackles like a linebacker. He uses his wingspan well to envelope ball-carriers, and consistently drives his body through his tackles to not only bring the runner down, but halt his forward progress.
While he is good at getting himself in position to make tackles at the line of scrimmage, he also tackles well when he is free and in space. He hits hard when he has time to deal up a hit on penetration into the backfield or a play that comes up to him in space, and it is rare for runners to escape his grasp once he starts to wrap up.
Use of Hands
One of the greatest strengths of Hill’s game is his hands usage. He is very active and quick with his hands, often initiating his move while simultaneously making contact with an opponent to beat him to the punch and quickly beat a blocker.
He is a classic hand-fighter who tends to win battles based upon the speed of his hand movement rather than specific techniques, but he can make plays with his swim and rip moves. His ability to use his hands is one of the keys to his success as an interior penetrator.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Hill’s best fit is as a 3-technique under tackle in a 4-3 defense, where he could be a solid complement as a penetrator next to a bigger, more powerful nose tackle. That said, he could also be used in a four-man front on passing downs as a 1-technique nose tackle, allowing the team to have a quick presence at that position who can bring pressure, but adding in a more athletic and explosive rusher alongside him.
His lack of height is a detriment to playing 5-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, but he has enough athleticism and interior pass-rushing ability to make the transition. He is best suited, however, to play in a 4-3 defense, likely to start out as a rotational player but potentially develop into a starting 3-technique defensive tackle.