NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 17: Ronnie Hillman #13 of the San Diego State Aztecs is pushed out of bounds by Justin Anderson #34 of the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns during the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bow at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 17, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos just traded up with the Cleveland Browns to select RB Ronnie Hillman out of San Diego State. At San Diego State, Hillman carried the ball 573 times, 3243 yards and 36 touchdowns. He also caught 33 balls for 338 yards and 2 touchdowns. That's a total 3581 yards and 38 touchdowns from Scrimmage.
Scouting Report from NFL.com
Hillman is an early entry junior to the draft from San Diego State, where he started every game for the Aztecs in the past two years and was first team All-Mountain West. He is a bit undersized but has the speed and quickness to have an immediate impact in the NFL. He likely won't demand the bulk of the carries for an NFL team but is a good "change of pace" guy who does a lot of things well enough to project to make an impact.
STRENGTHS: Hillman relies heavily on his quickness and immediate vision to find a seam to be an effective runner. He has decent speed for his size, but his quickness is his biggest asset. He has a natural feel for how to find daylight and can be patient to wait for a pulling interior lineman to get to the second level. He has a good burst in a short area to make guys miss, and has the quickness to be an effective short-yardage back in the NFL.
WEAKNESSES: Hillman is a very smooth mover but is not very explosive with the ball in his hands. He likes to feel his way through the line of scrimmage and usually gets to the second level with ease, but he struggles to run with power or elusiveness to make defenders miss and really break for a big gain. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his senior year, but those numbers were a bit skewed thanks to some long runs.
CBSSports.com has Hillman listed as the 11th overall running back in the 2012 NFL Draft and the 119th overall pick in the entire 2012 draft
Inside: Lacks the bulk most backs have, but is a surprisingly adept inside runner. Shows the toughness to attack the hole when necessary but generally is a patient runner whose electric lateral agility and burst gain him the most real estate. Only average leg drive overall but plays with good forward lean. Ball security has become a concern. Had two fumbles in 2010 and at least four (two at Michigan, TCU, Louisiana-Lafayette) in 2011.
Outside: Possesses very good speed to beat linebackers to the edge. Turns the corner quickly and accelerates smoothly. Very good vision for the cutback and cuts on dime. Sets defenders up with a stutter-step and go move that can make would-be tacklers look silly. Legitimate breakaway threat.
Breaking tackles: Relies on his agility to make defenders miss rather than brute power to run through tackles. Extremely elusive. Can make defenders miss in tight quarters and has the burst to accelerate past. Though undersized, he finishes his runs with good forward lean to gain maximum yardage.
Blocking: Willing to throw his body into a cut block but gets too low, allowing pass rushers to leap over him. Extends his arms to meet hard-charging linebackers but doesn't have the strength and sand in his pants to hold up.
Receiving: Made significant strides in his second season (24 receptions in 2011 as compared to nine a year earlier) but remains a work in progress. Flashes the hands to snatch passes away from his body. Makes most of his catches on simple flat routes and screens but is occasionally lined up outside or used on wheel routes. Dangerous receiver due to his open field runner skills but isn't always the most reliable pass-catcher. Hears the footsteps when attempting to catch passes in traffic.
Intangibles: Good football intelligence. Saw ball squirt free vs. Michigan, assumed it was a fumble, picked up and ran for first down. Play ultimately ruled an incomplete pass, but Hillman was the only player to react. Wasn't highly recruited out of high school. Received offers from only three Mountain West teams.
San Diego State sophomore back Ronnie Hillman is coming off a marvelous 2011 season and looks to capitalize on it in the 2012 NFL Draft.Hillman rushed 311 times for 1,711 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Aztecs. He chipped in 24 receptions for 270 yards and found the end zone once through the air. Hillman's 2010 freshman effort also was remarkable, as he logged 1,532 rushing yards and scored 18 total touchdowns.SDSU's little big manStrengthsFantastic open-field skillsExtremely agile and quick-footedGreat visionAthletic with good speed (4.45 40-yard dash time)Strong lower body (37-inch vertical jump)Better inside runner than his size suggests - has the patience to wait for a hole and lateral agility to make impressive cutback runsSurprisingly strong stiff armBig-play threat every time he touches the ballWilling blocker - puts effort forthCapable receiver out of the backfieldDisplays general football smartsWeaknessesUndersized (5-foot-8 3/8, 200 pounds)Ball security issuesVery poor technique as a blocker (too low and overextends) and lacks anchor abilityNot a natural receiver despite making strides in 2011 (small hands may play a role)When he struggles, he really strugglesExpected draft placementHillman received a third-round grade from the advisory committee, and we feel that is a very fair assessment of where he will go in the draft. At only 20 years old, he offers teams wiggle room for grooming purposes.
Ronnie Hillman, San Diego StateHeight: 5'10, Weight: 190 poundsStrengths: A two-year sensation for San Diego State. Has good quickness and speed when there is an open lane. Elusive in the open field and routinely makes tacklers miss. Good hands in the pass game. Like a poor man's Jamaal Charles, if he's willing to put in the effort to get better.Weaknesses: Dances around behind the line of scrimmage too much. Won’t be able to run between the tackles in the NFL like he did in college. Has fumble issues. Slight fame. Will likely have to start his pro career in a situational and special teams roles. Below-average and inexperienced as a blocker.