At what point does having a “quiet” training camp become a loud one? Ask Green Bay Packers rookie running back Kylin Hill. Hill, the 256th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is making the most of training camp, and the world is noticing.
The Packers feature an electrifying thunder-and-lightning combo at running back with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, but the RB3 spot is an open battle. Kylin Hill, UDFA Patrick Taylor, and 2019 sixth-round pick Dexter Williams form the primary hydra of possibilities. While all three are having strong camps, Kylin Hill looks to be the favorite.
While the returns are early and he hasn’t played an NFL game, Hill already looks like a “how did he fall to the seventh round?!” type of player. Hill is considered a natural runner and had a dynamite year in 2019. Yet Mississippi State switched to a pass-first offense under new head coach Mike Leach in 2020, not suiting Hill’s skills. This system, combined with injury, led to Hill skipping most of the 2020 season and falling in the 2021 draft.
The rest of the league’s pass is Green Bay’s gain, as not a day goes by without praise for Hill. Like WR Juwann Winfree, Hill is one of Green Bay’s worst-kept training camp secrets.
Rob Demovsky commented on Hill’s durability, while Wes Hodkiewicz noted his ability to be a threat in the passing game. Even for those of us outside of training camp, Hill has become a household name.
Hill will get plenty of opportunities to show his progress goes beyond camp as well. With Aaron Jones suffering from a hamstring injury and Green Bay rightfully being cautious with their star back, Hill is getting the nod as the number two back. This, along with some work with the 1s, shows where Hill sits in the mind of the Packers’ coaching staff.
And with the Packers playing their first preseason game this Saturday against the Houston Texans, expect plenty of playing time for the rookie.
In addition, Hill is also getting “vetted” as a kickoff returner according to special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton. A big role on special teams is key for a rookie looking to play a bigger role on offense and is just one more reason to keep an eye on Hill.
Running back is a physically tough position, and constant contact makes injuries common. And Green Bay gives their running backs plenty of work. A strong preseason will show that Hill can step up into a major role if he’s called up due to injuries.
Green Bay kept four running backs on their initial 2020 53-man roster, and it’s a good bet that’s the case in 2021. Williams and Taylor are also having strong camps, and the group will shake itself out through preseason. But with his loud training camp, Kylin Hill looks the favorite to be RB3.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.