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Breaking Down Holton Hill

NCAA Football: Maryland at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more intriguing UDFA signings by the Vikings this weekend was CB Holton Hill out of Texas. He was projected to be a mid-round pick, even though he has first or second-round size and talent, due to ‘maturity concerns’ which apparently caused him to be suspended from the team for the last few games of his career at Texas. The Vikings had him in for their Top 30 event pre-draft, and were able to sign him afterward- which was a bit of a coup for the Vikings as one of the highest rated players that went undrafted.

Let’s take a more detailed look at him.

Analyzing Holton Hill’s Game

Hill is a big corner- 6’3”, 200lbs., 4.49” 40, who is also known to be physical and a good tackler. And despite the maturity concerns, he’s also reportedly an intelligent person and player. In short, he’s Mike Zimmer’s type of DB - tough, physical, smart, big and can run.

At Texas, Hill showed not only can he be good in coverage, he also is not afraid to bring it in run support. That being the case, there’s a pretty good case to be made that in the Vikings system, and given existing personnel, Hill makes a very good candidate at safety. It will be interesting if he gets a look in that role - I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

Playing safety would mitigate concern over one of his weak points- staying with receivers at the break - while allowing him to use his off-coverage, instincts, awareness and route recognition ability more effectively at the back-end. His tackling ability and willingness to be physical in run support add to the appeal.

But perhaps the biggest concern raised about Hill is his ‘maturity issues.’ I’ve tried to get a better idea of what those are exactly, but haven’t found much of anything. They don’t seem to be criminal in nature, nor do they appear to be of the Cordarrelle Patterson variety, despite the ‘Hollywood’ nickname. One recent prospect that had similar issues coming out was Marcus Peters (who was also suspended his last year). Whatever issues Hill had at Texas, he doesn’t appear to have vented on the field, as Peters did at times, and doesn’t appear to be as outspoken as Peters on occasion. Speculating, in part by process of elimination, I’m guessing Hill may not have gotten along well with the coaching staff at Texas for one reason or another. He apparently was also in the doghouse with the previous head coach at Texas earlier in his career there. He was suspended for violating team rules late last year, ending his career at Texas, but it hasn’t been disclosed just what rules he broke.

Update: Hill reportedly was suspended for failing a drug test, reportedly smoking weed was the issue.

As a player, he is comparable to Richard Sherman when he came out- very similar measureables and concerns- in fact in terms of draft profiles, Hill sounds better than Sherman did- lol:

Sherman is a size prospect with some good intangibles that will help him mold into a contributing backup corner for a press-heavy team. However, he does not possess the natural coverage instincts, fluidity or burst to be considered a future starter. Is comfortable and capable in press man, using his size to disrupt receivers’ releases off the line, but doesn’t show enough make up speed to consistently recover when beaten. Awareness in zone and off-man are only adequate. Has average ball skills but some upside as a playmaker. Tough against the run but still developing from a technical standpoint. Sherman is a Day 3 prospect.

Obviously way off in many respects, in light of Sherman’s career in the NFL, but it’s always worthwhile to look back on occasion at draft profiles and realize scouts don’t always get it right.

One thing that doesn’t lie is the tape, and below are some good examples of Hill in action at Texas, along with a couple draft profile videos.