Austin Hill enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a promising start to his college career was derailed in 2013 due to injury. In 2012, Hill was one of the most productive receivers in the nation, totaling 82 rec., 1,364 yards and 11 TDs. The following Spring, Hill tore his ACL and missed the entire 2013 season. He returned in 2014 and caught 49 passes for 635 yards and 4 TDs. Physically, Hill is a big receiver who appears heavier than 210 on tape. He possesses thick legs and a compact upper-body, almost looking the part of a running back more than a wide receiver. Athletically, Hill is a pretty coordinated guy who has deceptive speed and balance. He’s not the most agile prospect, and he’s not going to make many “wow” plays after the catch. But he’s a competitive player who has the ability to break some tackles and stay on his feet. Hill isn’t the “quickest” guy, especially in short areas and when trying to create separation. He’s not a player who will explode out of his breaks and create natural space between himself and the defender; he has to rely more on his frame and catch radius to make a play moreso than any elite route-running trait. Hill has good, but not great, hands. He’s not a “natural” when securing the catch. That said, he is a generally reliable target. Hill has a good understanding of route concepts and finding soft spots in coverage, and he continues to work himself open when the QB is on the move. He’s a competitive guy when blocking in the run game, even though he leaves a bit to be desired in that department.
BOTTOM LINE: Austin Hill is one of the toughest evaluations for the 2015 NFL Draft. Based on his 2012 tape, he looks the part of a mid-round pick who could potentially contribute in his rookie season. However, he has struggled since his ACL injury, and while his upside is still probably closer to 2012 than 2014 tape, it’s hard to trust that he’ll ever fully get back to that level. He’s likely a late-Day 3 guy with the potential to outplay his draft position. If he returns to 2012 form, Hill has a chance to be a lot like former Chicago Bear receiver Marty Booker—his play is similar to a big running back who happens to be a good route runner.
GRADE: 5.2 (7th round – PFA)