Drafting J.K. Dobbins didn’t exactly help Justice Hill‘s chances for a breakout season. How can he carve out a role in this offense?
Justice Hill was the third wheel in the Ravens’ backfield rotation in the 2019 season. He only had 58 rushing attempts and five receptions on the year. With J.K. Dobbins in the mix, Hill’s situation didn’t get any easier. How can Hill carve out a spot as a productive player for the offense? He needs to be the pass catching running back.
Hill had five receptions for 70 yards last year. While he didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do, Hill made it clear that he could make plays with the ball in his hand. Hill’s speed and his ability to make things happen in the open field are valuable assets and the Ravens shouldn’t waste his talent. The only chance that Hill has is to become a specialist.
As a downhill runner, Ingram, Edwards and Dobbins are going to have him beat. Ingram is a do it all running back. Edwards is a hammer in between the tackles while Dobbins could be a younger version of Ingram.
There is opportunity for a pass catching back to gain traction. Dobbins isn’t a bad pass catcher however his comfort zone is taking the hand-off. Edwards is a little more limited in this area. Hill has the skills to become a good pass catcher out of the backfield.
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Hill has deceptively good power but he’s never going to be a Jamal Lewis type of player. Getting the ball to Hill in the open field is a great idea. The best way to do that is to get him involved in the passing game. He will get chances with the ball. The more he does with each carry and reception the more touches he’ll see.
Hill could be a better version of Buck Allen. Allen had four years with the Ravens. In the 2017 season, he had 153 rushing attempts and 46 receptions. It may surprise you to hear that Allen caught 129 passes as a member of the purple and black.
While Hill wasn’t used that way in the 2019 season, he is the most likely player to have that kind of a job in this offense. It also seemed to be going that way for Hill before the end of the year. Hill had four of his five receptions in the last two weeks of the regular season. Hill also had four receptions in the playoff game against the Titans.
One thing that works for Hill is that the Ravens didn’t draft Dobbins because they were down on him. The Ravens drafted Dobbins because he was a steal and they couldn’t pass him up. It’s a safe bet that the Ravens are very high on Hill. In fact, a pairing of Dobbins and Hill could be the future at the position.
There is plenty of reason to be encouraged by Hill’s potential. The Ravens haven’t exactly been shy about wanting to use all four of their running backs. Hill will get chances to shine. Becoming an elite weapon as a pass catcher out of the backfield is his best path forward. He may never be a 1,000 yard rusher in this group of running backs but catching 20-30 passes is a realistic goal.