GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers added a running back to their potentially dynamic duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon by selecting Mississippi State’ Kylin Hill with their seventh-round pick on Sunday.
With 734 yards as a sophomore and 1,350 yards as a junior, Hill looked like a top prospect entering his senior year. Instead, his 2020 campaign went nowhere fast. In three games in new coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid system, he carried only 15 times for 58 yards but did catch 23 passes. He was suspended by Leach and ultimately opted out, leading to an uncertain draft fate.
His biggest contribution this year wasn’t on the field but off: his tweet about the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi state flag. On Nov. 3, voters approved creation of a new flag.
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To him, the tweet was a snapshot of his own life experiences as a Black man living in Mississippi. Not planned but also not spontaneous, the tweet revealed only a fraction of his true feelings, an abbreviated message of 97 characters, 18 words and his patented “100” emoji, to show he wasn’t messing around.
The unabridged story is much deeper.
Hill has been called the n-word. In fact, he’s been called the n-word a half-mile from where, in front of a mostly white crowd, he gallops across a field on fall Saturdays. His mother has been called the n-word, too. For no obvious reason, Hill has been made to pull his vehicle off the road, exit it and then, only when the white officer completed his fruitless search, been told to be on his way.
“When you’ve been through the situation, you get frustrated,” Hill explains. “You get tired of the situation. I said, ‘I need to speak up.’”
So, while lying in bed at 1:09 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, he fired his tweet into the ether. And then, like a person truly unimpressed by his own work, he rolled over on his side, buried himself in covers and took a nap.
“It just took the courage,” he said at pro day. “I’m an athlete, I’m branded very well, so I felt like somebody in my position had to speak up. I knew the backlash I was going to get, (but) my family, my teammates and even the coaches stood behind me and helped out. The support I was getting felt good, even from players from other schools backed me up and motivated me to let me know they were behind me. I knew what I was doing, I just took a big risk and if I had to go back and do it over I would have.”
At pro day, he measured 5-foot-10 1/2 and 214 pounds. He ran his 40 in 4.55 seconds.
The suspension was an about-face after he was hailed for his maturity and leadership in 2019.
“Growing up, it was hard,” Hill told The Athletic, referencing the deaths of people close to him and his relationship with his father. “I always stayed in trouble. I quit football in my sophomore year of high school, then we got (coach Randal Montgomery). I would always quit and he would just always tell me that I didn’t know what I was capable of, that I had talent, but if I kept doing what I was doing, I was going to waste it. When he told me that, it was just like the light clicked.”
According to Sports Info Solutions, his 100-touch rates for his career were 0.2 fumbles and 28 missed tackles – both strong figures.
NFL Draft Bible says: With a powerfully built frame, Hill possesses some of the best contact balance in this draft class. Playing with outstanding effort, Hill is rarely corralled on first contact, with the ability to churn out extra yardage after first contact. He’s a runaway freight train once he is able to get into the second level, presenting a long day for opposing defensive backs coming downhill. The biggest improvement in Hill’s game is his vision in zone concepts. He improved his patience, allowing for blocks to develop in front of him. So, while his downhill style may be more suited for a gap power system, Hill will certainly be able to transition to a zone scheme. His physicality shows up as a pass protector, where he is inconsistent but flashes some real nice fits in that department.