68 Days Until Vikings Football: Kyle Hinton Could Be A Seventh-Round Steal
As we count down the days until the Vikings' opener against the Packers on September 13th, InsideTheVikings will be previewing every single player on the roster. The amount of days remaining corresponds with the jersey number of the player being examined on that day. Today is July 7th, and there are 68 days until kickoff for the 2020 regular season. That means today's preview looks at an intriguing rookie on the offensive line.
Countdown to Vikings-Packers on September 13th: 68 Days
Player Preview: Kyle Hinton (No. 68, Guard/Center)
- College: Washburn (D-II)
- Drafted: Seventh round (253rd overall)
- NFL experience: N/A
- Age: 22 (Birthday was in February)
- Size: 6'2", 295
- 2019 PFF Grade: N/A
The Vikings got good value in the 2020 NFL Draft down to the very end. With their record-setting 15th selection – the 253rd out of 255 total picks in the draft – Rick Spielman and company took a flyer on a Division-II offensive lineman with incredible athleticism. That player is Washburn University's Kyle Hinton. Despite how late he was selected, there are a number of reasons to remember Hinton's name going forward.
Coming out of high school in Peoria, AZ, Hinton was a no-star recruit who didn't receive any interest from D-I programs. Still, he showed enough talent to garner some D-II attention, and wound up choosing to attend Washburn (which is located in Topeka, KS). Hinton appeared in 41 games (34 starts) for the Ichabods over the next four years and was named a D-II All-American as a senior in 2019.
In January, Hinton landed an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, where he held his own against D-I talent. Then, in March, he continued to put his name on the NFL's radar by showing off his elite athleticism at Kansas State's pro day. He ran a 4.86 40, which is ridiculously fast for an offensive lineman. Hinton also posted a 34.5-inch vertical jump and did 34 reps on the bench press. In total, his Relative Athletic Score of 9.43 isn't far behind the likes of Garrett Bradbury, Ezra Cleveland, and Brian O'Neill. RAS is a composite metric created by Kent Lee Platte which is "based on the average of all of the percentile for each of the metrics the player completed either at the Combine or pro day."
When the Vikings selected Hinton with the third-to-last pick in the draft, he became just the seventh player in Washburn history to be selected in the NFL Draft.
Taking Hinton is the latest example of an important trend for the Vikings. They've spent the past few seasons looking for highly athletic offensive linemen who can thrive in Gary Kubiak's zone blocking scheme. That philosophy has led to them using early picks on O'Neill, Bradbury, and Cleveland, but it also surely influenced the decision to use recent Day 3 picks on Dru Samia, Oli Udoh, and now Hinton. The Vikings apparently had been talking to Hinton since November 2019, so he wasn't surprised to end up in Minnesota.
Hinton's athleticism will give him a chance to succeed in the NFL. He has the quickness to explode off of the ball and get to difficult blocking angles, as well as reach the second level. O'Neill famously scored two touchdowns in college, but don't neglect this graceful catch-and-run for a score by Hinton:
There are reasons to be optimistic about Hinton's chances of out-performing his draft slot, but he was the 253rd pick for a reason. After playing left tackle at Washburn, the 6'2", 295-pounder will transition to the interior OL in the NFL. Hinton is listed as a guard on the Vikings' website, but Kubiak has indicated that the Vikings view him as a center. Moving from left tackle to center isn't an easy transition, especially when you're going from D-II to the NFL. He's undersized for an NFL offensive lineman and will need to prove that he has the functional strength to anchor against defensive linemen.
Hinton faces an uphill path to seeing NFL regular season action, but his athleticism, strength, and intelligence give him the upside to carve out a career in the league. I think he'll at least earn a spot on the practice squad this season and may actually have an outside chance to make the 53-man roster.
Previous OL player previews:
- No. 78: Dakota Dozier
- No. 76: Aviante Collins
- No. 75: Brian O'Neill
- No. 74: Oli Udoh
- No. 73: Dru Samia
- No. 72: Ezra Cleveland
- No. 71: Riley Reiff
- No. 69: Rashod Hill
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