When Ronnie Hillman gets ahead of an entire defense, there’s no looking back. The former San Diego State running back thinks touchdown every time he gets his hands on the ball.
In college, Hillman had nine runs of 40+ yards and six runs of 50+ yards. He doesn’t get caught from behind with 4.45 speed.
“You really can teach a player how to run, but you can’t teach them the vision,” Hillman said. “I think I’ve been blessed with the ability to see and be able to tackle the game the way that I do…Most of the time, I don’t even look at the front line. I look at linebacker and safety. That actually helps me a lot.”
That’s precisely why the Broncos drafted Hillman with the 67th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Broncos needed someone to split carries with Willis McGahee. McGahee had 1,199 yards on 249 carries last season. A back over 30 years old shouldn’t have to carry that much weight. Plus, the team lost a lot of their ground production from last season when they sent Tim Tebow to the Jets.
“We just like his production, his explosiveness when he touches the ball,” John Fox said. “He makes big plays.”
He’s being compared to Darren Sproles for a variety of reasons.
“There’s some similarities, but I don’t think we’re exactly mirror image,” Hillman said. “We’re two different people, two different players, but I could do some of the stuff he does.”
Like Sproles, Hillman can be a receiving threat out of the backfield for Peyton Manning in addition to his running. He had 24 receptions for 270 yards and one touchdown threw the air in 2011.
Hillman is not yet 21 years old, but he doesn’t think his youth hinders him.
“I think it’s an advantage,” Hillman said. “I’ve got a lot of room to grow, and I get to learn from a 10-year veteran, Willis McGahee. I can’t wait to get here.”
If Hillman pans out to be the kind of back that the Broncos hope for, look for Knowshon Moreno to take on a third down back role.