By the time the 2018 NFL draft is over, fans will be left to recognize what scout and savvy media members having been all along - there wasn't a more ferocious pack of senior defensive linemen in the country than the one North Carolina State featured throughout the 2017 campaign.
Star defensive end Bradley Chubb earned most of the attention in 2017 but running a close second to him in terms of production and popularity was Hill, who finished second to the projected top 10 pick with 55 tackles as a senior, earning Honorable Mention All-ACC honors. The 55 stops was a career-high for Hill but only 10 more than what he averaged per year in four seasons as a starter at NC State, highlighted by breakout sophomore campaign in which he recorded 50 tackles, including setting career-highs with 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
Hill's production dipped to 39 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and just a single sack in 2016 but rose back up again as a senior. Hill culminated his final season with a splashy performance during one-on-one workouts at the Senior Bowl which earned him plenty of attention, as well.
As a testament to his raw athleticism, Hill spent his prep career splitting time between defensive end and running back, registering 68 tackles, nine sacks and one INT on defense, as well as 118 rushes for 819 yards and five touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball... He signed with the Wolfpack after being rated the No. 70 defensive end nationally by scout.com, No. 35 player in North Carolina by rivals.com, No. 50 defensive end nationally by ESPN.com...
Hill possesses a prototypical frame for an NFL defensive tackle with broad shoulders and a stout lower body including thick limbs. He shows good initial quickness off the snap, keeping his pads low and creating a surge upfield with very good leg drive, arguably his best asset. Hill keeps his eyes trained on the ball, possessing the lateral agility and strength to slip off blocks and make tackles at or near the line of scrimmage. His core strength makes Hill a very effective bull rusher also he complements this with a solid rip move, as well as an occasional spin, leaving would-be tacklers guessing. For a big man, Hill shows impressive burst and acceleration, closing on the ball quickly and creating powerful collisions, including downfield, padding his statistics and earning the respect of teammates. Impressive durability, playing in 43 games over his career with 38 starts, not including the Senior Bowl... -- Rob Rang 1/31/2018
Hill is a bit of a bull in a china shop, relying on his power to wreak havoc upfield but showing just average lateral agility and change of direction to make stops outside of the tackle box or to affect the quarterback. He does not possess the wiggle to elude and get skinny to be a consistent penetration threat, too often planting his feet and playing patty-cake with blockers, rather than actively working to disengage. He is not as stout at the point of attack as his frame and tackle numbers suggest, too often losing the leverage battle with poor pad level and being driven back, spinning off blockers to make tackles downfield rather than splitting them to make stops at the point of attack. - Rob Rang 1/31/2018
Ahytba Rubin, Falcons - Hill possesses a similar build and game as Rubin (who looks bigger but is listed at 6-2, 310 pounds) with the same broad-shouldered, run-stuffing frame. Neither are the dominating block-eaters than their bulk suggests but each possess the toughness, durability and awareness to make tackles at or near the line of scrimmage to carve out solid NFL careers.
IN OUR VIEW
Hill was a highlight hero during Senior Bowl practices, shoving some of the better guards in Mobile deep into the pocket during one-on-ones and earning plenty of media attention. Unfortunately, the tape doesn't match these highlights (or his statistics) with too many of his stops coming downfield. Hill possesses the girth and strength teams are looking for as an interior run-plugger but he is more of a Day Three pick who than the future star his hype has led some to believe.