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How Tyreek Hill fits with the Kansas City Chiefs

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Not just track speed... football speed

Easily the most controversial draft pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016, Tyreek Hill has brought on strong opinions and plenty of dialogue about domestic violence and off the field issues. This piece is NOT about that topic, so I'm hopeful (but not optimistic) that we can discuss Hill the football player and not Hill the person or the incident. Let's review what he actually does on the field.

How Tyreek Hill fits with the Chiefs

If we were able to go back in time and remove the violent incident and evaluate Hill as a football prospect only ... there would still be questions about the pick:

What's his position? Hill was a running back in college, but is wearing No. 81 and working with the WRs with the Chiefs. He looks like a tweener, who may not be an every-down player at any position. He can surely help on gadget plays but can he develop as a WR?t

Will he have a role on offense, or special teams only? His selection was clearly about getting an explosive KR and PR, but is there a chance he'll become a playmaker on offense?   Early results from OTAs would indicate that he could. Yes, it's just OTAs, with no pads, and fast guys always look good in OTAs, but the mentions have consistent and notable.

What does his selection mean for DAT and Knile Davis? The Chiefs already boast explosive players at both kick returner and punt returner but both guys have struggled to carve out their own roles in the offense. Thomas has been a mystery since late in the season when he was seemingly a healthy scratch. The public comments by Dorsey and Reid made it appear that the Chiefs and Thomas were not on the same page. Knile Davis has been rumored to be on the trade block since the day the Chiefs signed fellow RBs West and Ware to matching extensions.

The bottom line is that Hill is yet another in a line of electric playmakers without a true position that are intriguing on potential alone. Guys like De'Anthony Thomas and Dexter McCluster flash the ability to make plays in space, but the challenge is always how do you get them the ball in space? I saw more than one interview with a head coach after a game asking "Why isn't Tyreek Hill more involved in the offense?" Like so many Chiefs coaches with DAT / Dex, they didn't have a great answer.

At worst, Hill is probably going to be a kick returner and punt returner that will have us all holding our breath on every return. If he never steps foot on the field on offense, there IS value in having a (potentially) elite return game. Winning field position on a regular basis and scoring TDs occasionally will absolutely help a team win games. The Chiefs have seen that with Knile, DAT, and Dex over the last few years. But the value is limited and the returner positions can be churned if they don't also find a home on offense.

So, it will be key for Hill to not only become an elite returner, but also to find other ways to help the team on a consistent basis in order to solidify his spot on the roster for the long run. It's VERY early in the process to make any conclusions based on what's happening in OTAs, but it sounds like Hill is getting legit snaps and making plays as a WR, doing all of the things you want your WRs to be able to do. It'll be a story to watch throughout the offseason. If Hill can get in the WR rotation and be more than just a gadget player/returner ... watch out. With his speed and ability with the ball in his hands, he could be a special player in Kansas City.

The Measurables

  • 5'9, 185 pounds
  • 4.25 40-yard dash (1.50 10-yard split, would have been fastest at combine)
  • 40.5" vertical (would have been third best WR at combine)
  • Broad jump 10'9" (would have been third best WR at combine)
  • 20-yard shuttle 4.06 (would have been second best WR at combine)
  • Three cone 6.53 (would have been second best WR at combine)

Film review notes

West Alabama games were hard to find and competition was questionable, so I focused on 2014 games against top competition while at OSU.

Vs. FSU 2014

    (No. 1 ranked team at the time)
  • is quite obvious on kickoff returns
  • Had a botched handoff on a kickoff return, tried to get loose but lost yardage
  • As a RB, fast and decisive, but went down easy at times
  • The type of guy you're holding your breath on every return waiting for him to break one
  • Stocky build, doesn't give up on plays, fights for yardage
  • Had a 36-yard punt return that was electric, ran past everyone
  • Caught the ball out of the backfield with ease, but had a couple plays back to back where the defense sniffed it out and went nowhere
  • Strong hands, snatches the ball out of the air
  • Credited with eight rushes, 44 yards, six catches for 62 yards, 172 total return yards

Vs. Oklahoma 2014

  • Was the change of pace RB along with the primary kick / punt returner
  • Had this crazy move where he does a high step and accelerates
  • Sometimes juked too much
  • Elite foot quickness and speed
  • Gets to the outside in a flash
  • Took a short pass and got up field for a big game
  • The high step move shows up again
  • Fearless, doesn't shy away from contact
  • Will mix it up as a blocker
  • Falls forward
  • Doesn't slow down late in games, goes full speed all the time
  • Turned the corner on third and one, went for 20-plus
  • Sure-handed caught a punt with a guy draped on him
  • "92 yards of history" in the form of a game tying return in the fourth quarter, where he just glided past everyone
  • Plays with a lot of passion and emotion. Told reporters he was "crying tears of joy" during the TD return.
  • Credited with three rushes for 38 yards, six catches for 22 yards, 126 total return yards

Vs TCU 2014

  • Was the second RB in this game
  • Given his size, was not shy about running the ball inside
  • Took a shot to him deep, but the QB overthrew him into traffic
  • Had a nice run where he made three guys miss and gained 20
  • Great burst through the hole
  • QB missed him again on a wide open pass in the flats
  • Another big run up the middle, made several quick cuts for 20-plus
  • Credited with 11 rushes for 52 yards, one catch for 6 yards, 45 total return yards

Where he wins

  • Electric with the ball in his hands
  • Makes people miss
  • Elite speed and quickness
  • Sturdy, muscular build (especially compared to guys like DAT and Dex)
  • Goes 100 mph all the time, doesn't slow down
  • Tracks and catches the ball very well, both on returns and on offense

Where he doesn't win

  • Lack of height and history as a RB will raise questions about his ability to be a full time WR
  • Could be a tweener that doesn't see the field as a full time RB either
  • If he's just a gadget play guy, defenses can key in on him when he's on the field, limiting his effectiveness
  • While he lined up at WR at times, it was tough to find much film on him running routes and executing the position
  • Statistically not as dominant as you'd like to see given his ability
  • 2015: 25 rushes for 237 yards and one TD, 27 catches for 444 yards and three TDs, two KR and two PR TDs
  • 2014, 102 rushes for 534 yards and one TD, 31 catches for 281 yards and one TD,  two KR and one PR TDs.

For more on Tyreek Hill, see the links below