Elway: Hillman brings Sproles-like threat to Broncos

The Denver Broncos believe they've acquired a secret weapon in the form of rookie running back Ronnie Hillman.

At first blush, Hillman isn't your typical John Fox back. He doesn't project as a bruiser between the tackles, but his ability to catch the ball -- and his blazing speed -- drew an interesting comparison Tuesday.

"To be able to have a weapon like Ronnie Hillman, he's a lot like a (Darren) Sproles," John Elway told Broncos season-ticket holders. "You can get great matchups ... (a) great change-of-pace back."

After the draft, Elway, the team's vice president of football operations, called the 5-foot-9 Hillman "electric," saying: "He's got a chance to make that big play."

When Denver traded up in the third round of the draft to grab Hillman out of San Diego State, it had everything to do with Peyton Manning. There was nobody on the roster with Hillman's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, but he'll need to prove he can block for his quarterback.

We'll pump the brakes on comparing him to Sproles -- who was outrageous paired with Drew Brees in New Orleans -- but we expect Hillman to be used heavily in Denver's offense next season. Willis McGahee remains the starter, and Lance Ball has a place here, but Knowshon Moreno could be the odd man out barring a sensational camp.