Ok, so with the release of Le'Ron McClain we are lacking a "true" fullback. Granted, Le'Ron isn't the poster child for a prototypical fullback. I mean, he nearly ran for 1,000 yards in 2008.
With the signing of Hillis, Chiefs fans immediately began to ponder what position he would play in the offense. Would he be a complimentary back to Jamaal (after all, stats repeatedly show that a crew of good running backs is more successful than on really great runner, why Denver/New Orleans beat Jacksonville in rushing)? Would he be given the majority of our carries? Would he be playing an H-back role? Or would he just be a simple fullback?
Hillis put quite the emphasis on the fact that Daboll didn't see him as "just a fullback" while the two worked together in Cleveland. This makes me question Hillis lining up in the 3-point stance in front of Charles next season. Which I can't say I'm disappointed about. I mean, why would you want a guy who ran for over 1,200 yards in 2010 to be stuck with lead-blocking duties?
But that bears the question, what will we do at fullback?Owen Schmitt is still available and has mountains-full of untapped potential. He was barely used in Seattle, used even less in Philly, and is looking for a team that will finally give him a shot to prove he's a star fullback (hopefully that's us!).
The draft is crammed with fullback prospects, from your runners like Cody Johnson, to your receivers like Evan Rodriguez, to bulldozing blockers like Chad Diehl.
We've always got Shane Bannon, who is a great athlete and has all of the tools to become a great fullback, but is very, very raw.
But, still I've come to a Hillis-option here.
Why could he not play as both a complimentary back and a lead blocker, like in the old says of smashmouth football? Him and Jamaal/Dex/whoever the hell we pick in the draft line up in the I-form, either Hillis takes the ball and smashes into the line, punishing the defense and making defenders fear his presence up the gut. Then, after they're sick of him and are getting ready for another pounding, Jamaal and Dex break one to the outside and Hillis is in their face blocking.
It's an old-school approach, but how old is it really? Let us turn to the Buccaneers of the late 90's and early 2000's. They never had a good QB, not once. But they repeatedly got to the playoffs and even a Super Bowl on the shoulders of an elite defense and one of the hardest-working players of all-time, fullback Mike Alstott, hence the picture above.
Early in Hillis' career as he quickly rose to fame, dozens of comparisons between the two were made. They are the same size (6'1, 250 pounds), same incredibly physical running-style, same jersey number, same facemask, same neckroll, and of course the skin color similarity. Alstott and Warrick Dunn had quite the tandem back in those years, Dunn was speedy and quick, always darting around and hard to get a good angle on. Alstott was a no-nonsense, straight ahead freight train that no one was willing to tackle one-on-one and he took the majority of those carries from the fullback position. He's one of the single hardest backs to bring down in the history of the game. Both he and Hillis admittedly aren't explosive or game-makers, but they are solid athletes for their size and are incredibly powerful runners.
The differences? Alstott never ran for 1,000 yards in a season (Hillis has) and Charles is arguably (probably?) better than Dunn. That makes for an even more dynamic tandem. Toss in Dex and whoever we pick in the draft and it's way better.
People said that the Hillis-Alstott comparisons were unwarrented and not justified. But are they really? Do you really see a difference here?
I mean, just highlights-wise it's hard to spot a difference. The hard-nosed running are their claims to fame, but both were underrated blockers and have great hands.
And when you look at the great fullbacks of today, guys like John Kuhn, Greg Jones, Jed Collins, Le'Ron McClain, Marcell Reece and John Connor, all of them are very versatile guys. They can all run well (some can even play tailback if injuries cause problems), they all catch well, and they all are at least good blockers. While guys like Vonta Leach and Owen Schmitt may be better blockers and help the running game more in that respect, they aren't as much of a contributor to the offense.
It's just a thought, maybe Hillis could become the next great running fullback, he showed that he was willing to block in Denver, that we was a talented runner in Cleveland, and showed he had some of the best hands in the game in both.
And just for the sake of Chiefs nation, I give you one finally Chiefs GIF.