Photo of Peyton Hillis
Grade
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  • 26 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 6'1" Height
  • 240LBS. Weight

Overview

While Darren McFadden and Felix Jones have been the featured runners in the Razor-backs' powerful running attack the last three seasons, Peyton Hillis was a valuable contributor for Arkansas, and possibly its most versatile athlete.

During his time at Arkansas, Hillis was utilized as a fullback, H-back, tailback, tight end, wide receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner.

A punishing blocker, a powerful runner and a natural receiver, he's tied for seventh in school history in receptions (118), ninth in touchdown catches (11) and 15th all-time in receiving yardage (1,195). He added 12 rushing TDs, averaged 10.3 yards per punt return and amassed 2,624 all-purpose yards over 44 games.

A highly recruited player at Conway High School, Hillis was named the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was also selected to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Team as both a junior and a senior and was a member of the Associated Press Arkansas Super Team. He added Fox Sports Net "All-South" first-team honors and won the Landers Award, recognizing the top high school football player in Arkansas.

Hillis earned consensus All-Conference, All-State and All-Arkansas honors as a junior and a senior. The Super Prep All-American was ranked as both the top fullback in the nation and the top prospect in Arkansas by the same publication. Named to Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report and Parade All-American squad, he was rated as the second-best fullback in the nation and as the top prospect in Arkansas by Rivals.com. Max Emfinger had him as the top fullback prospect in the nation and he was listed as the third-best prospect in the state by The Morning News. He also earned All-State honors in baseball.

Hillis rushed for 2,631 yards and 29 touchdowns, including nine touchdowns of more than 55 yards, on 261 carries (10.1-yard average) in his senior season. His 2,631 yards was the second highest single-season total in Class 5A history trailing only former Razorback De'Arrius Howard (2,746). He earned 100 yards or more in all 12 games that year and caught 12 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 384 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Russellville as a senior and 1,427 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior, adding 10 receptions for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

Hillis enrolled at Arkansas in 2004. He turned down scholarship offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Tennessee and Michigan, going on to start two of 10 games for the Razorbacks. He was thought to be out for at least six weeks after suffering a fracture of the transverse processes of the L1, L2 and L3 vertebrates vs. the Gators.

However, he returned to play three snaps vs. Georgia only three weeks after the injury, starting his first career game as a Razorback. He finished his first year with 240 yards and six touchdowns on 63 carries (3.8-yard average), adding 97 yards and two scores on 12 receptions (8.1 avg) and 128 yards on seven kickoff returns (18.3 avg).

Hillis amassed 947 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, starting nine games at fullback and the Vanderbilt clash at tailback. He rushed 65 times for 315 yards (4.8-yard average) and three touchdowns. He led the team with 38 receptions for 402 yards (10.6 avg) and four scores. He added 65 yards on three kickoff returns (21.7 avg), 165 yards on 16 punt returns (10.3 avg) and scored 42 points. He also excelled on the coverage units, posting five tackles.

Hillis started nine of the team's first 10 games at fullback before being sidelined for the last four contests of the 2006 season with a deep right thigh bruise. He managed just 57 yards on 13 carries (4.4-yard average) with a score, finishing third on the team with 19 receptions for 159 yards (8.4 avg). He also produced 92 yards on eight punt returns, totaling 326 all-purpose yards while posting three tackles (two solo).

Those totals did not make the fullback happy and he would not accept his injury as a factor for his statistical decline.

Feeling that they were overworking Hillis his first three seasons, new running back coach Tim Horton reduced the fullback's work load as a senior.

Hillis went on to start nine of 13 games in 2007, earning second-team All-American honors for his blocking exploits. He carried 62 times for 347 yards (5.6-yard average) and two touchdowns. For the second time in his career, he led Arkansas with a career-high 49 catches for 537 yards (11.0 avg) and five scores. He closed out his final season with 886 all-purpose yards, as his blocking paved the way for the Razorbacks to lead the South-eastern Conference and rank fourth nationally in rushing (286.54 yards per game).

In 44 games at Arkansas, Hillis started 30 times, including one start at tailback. He gained 959 yards with 12 touchdowns on 203 carries (4.7-yard average) and hauled in 118 passes for 1,195 yards (10.1 avg), including 11 scores. He attempted two passes, returned 12 kickoffs for 213 yards (17.8 avg) and gained 257 yards on 25 punt returns (10.3 avg). He scored 138 points, recorded nine tackles (five solo) and totaled 2,624 all-purpose yards, an average of 59.64 yards per game.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Lacks ideal size, but shows solid muscle mass, developed thighs and calves and a proportionate build...Good short-area receiver who might not have the speed to get into vertical routes, but does a good job of settling underneath and shows good vision working back to the quarterback when the pocket is pressured...Has a very good work ethic and puts in extra hours studying film...Does not have much hip wiggle to elude, but runs with good balance and body control, getting the bulk of his rushing yardage after initial contact...Tough competitor who will not hesitate to face up to the bull rushers -- will get pushed back when he fails to anchor well -- and is a good contact-seeker chasing down linebackers by taking proper angles in the second level...Alert to the blitz and stunts, doing a nice job in his kick slide when protecting the pocket...Efficient at spotting the crease and does a good job of keeping his pad level down and attacking the line of scrimmage with his shoulders squared...More quick than he is fast, but can break arm tackles...Might lack the speed for vertical routes, but you won't see him drift in his patterns...Has good first-step agility out of his stance, showing urgency getting to the line of scrimmage...Knows how to slip under defenders to get a clean release into his routes...Shows good body mechanics when building his acceleration through the hole...Has good plant-and-drive agility out of his breaks and while he is mostly a one-cut runner, he has the vision and instincts to adjust in his stride...Gets most of his initial yardage by running at a good pad level and pushing the pile with adequate power, as he can break arm tackles, especially when utilized in short-yardage carries...Has the body lean to gain additional yardage falling forward and shows good balance and determination to finish...When he drops his pads, he gets good movement and can move the chains...Uncoils and explodes on contact taking the ball up the middle and has a compact finishing style...Must improve his ball security, but is not a chronic fumbler...Used mostly on swing routes and dump offs, but has enough leg drive to create separation vs. second-level defenders...Also good at running stop routes with effectiveness, showing a good feel for the sidelines...Has good concentration adjusting to off-target throws and has the hands to reach and pluck away from his frame...Demonstrates good hand-eye coordination and, while he lacks deep speed, he can get upfield vs. linebackers and safeties...Can finesse block with good hand placement or hunker down and knock defenders back when leading on sweeps...Will get bounced around some lead blocking up the middle, but uses his shoulders well in attempts to widen the rush lane...Takes good angles into the second level to execute cut blocks...Can adjust on the move and is aggressive looking for targets to hit. Negatives: Undersized for a fullback at the professional level, but does show good power and aggression as a blocker...Bit of a "tweener," but shows just adequate elusiveness running with the ball, especially when asked to take the pigskin outside...Has good explosion off the snap, but lacks the leg drive to power through trash running between the tackles...Had some ball-security issues and needs to do a better job of distributing it away from the defenders when getting into the second level (susceptible to having the ball knocked out by leaving it exposed, especially on returns)...Has had good success as a receiver, but is not used much on upfield routes and is better served being utilized in the short area...Needs to play with better confidence (will get into a bit of a funk after a bad play)...Has had several injuries that lead to durability questions (back injury was the most serious)...Attacks the rush lanes at a good pad level, but needs to generate better leg drive to sustain those blocks, as he can get overwhelmed in tight areas trying to sustain the lane...Does not have the speed to separate past the line of scrimmage and has to rely on his strength to gain additional yardage after initial contact...Won't win any footraces in the open due to a lack of a second gear...Has been used as a punt returner in the past, but does not have the burst or lateral range to be effective in that role at the next level...Hands are smaller than ideal (eight-inch width), which could have led to some fumble issues as a sophomore (four in two games). Compares To: BRIAN LEONARD-St. Louis-Leonard has better speed, but both are underrated blockers who are better served not being used in the traditional fullback role. Hillis has good value as a short-yardage runner, but to have him carry the ball often would not be beneficial, as he does not have the second gear or speed to make big gains on the ground. He has natural hands for short-area tosses, but his speed issue will prevent him from being lined wide for the vertical passing game. Still, he's a good blue-collar type who can help in a variety of roles, rather than being utilized strictly as a blocker. Every roster could use a versatile player like Hillis, especially in the mid-to-late rounds.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
NFL News
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