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Raiders NFL Draft Prospect Spotlight: Justin Hilliard

Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Justin Hilliard showed promise in 2020 and is a player of intrigue for the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL Draft

As the 2021 NFL Draft’s countdown clock gets shorter and shorter, the pressure on teams to make history by making the right pick only increases.

That also goes for the Las Vegas Raiders, who in this draft could finally take the next step in finding the players they need to help make it back to the playoffs.

That would involve finding talented defensive playmakers, and one player who could provide that at linebacker is Ohio State’s, Justin Hilliard.

We’ve previously gone over his teammate Baron Browning, and Hilliard actually graded out better by Pro Football Focus in their rankings for 2020.

Hilliard was ranked as the 28th best linebacker in the country, as opposed to Browning, who was ranked at 143rd.

Hilliard plays with an explosive edge and can give out hits that have a lot more impact than his size would indicate at 6-1 and 231 pounds.

He’s very good at shedding blockers and is never out of balance whenever he goes through contact.

Despite these good qualities, Hilliard hasn’t had much experience as a starter, only having three starts in his career.

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A lot of that has to do with an extensive injury history, appearing in only one game in 2015 and 2016 combined due to tearing two different biceps.

Hillard then partially tore an Achilles in 2019 to add to the list.

His size and length aren’t what you would want from a linebacker, although it didn’t prove to be an issue in 2020.

Hilliard also can get baited in coverage often with fakes and misdirections, taking him out of position.

That could have a lot to do with Hilliard’s lack of playing time over the course of his Buckeye career, but the former five-star recruit still showed promise when he had the opportunity last season.

If he can stay on the field going forward, his skill set should allow him to fit in any number of schemes in the NFL. 

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