Size. Length. Speed. Toughness.
Former Texas Longhorns cornerback Holton Hill has always had all the tools to become a standout NFL player, but after a benching in 2016 and a suspension in 2017 that ultimately ended Hill’s college career, there are questions about his off-field conduct.
The 6’2, 196-pounder arrived at Texas after a standout career at Houston Lamar that resulted in a top-100 national ranking and top-10 ranking among all cornerbacks.
Over the last eight games of his freshman season, Hill broke into the starting lineup and finished with 49 tackles, four passes broken up, one fumble recovery, and an interception returned for a touchdown.
Then Hill largely disappeared as a sophomore, appearing in only five games and starting three.
Under the new coaching staff, Hill returned to the field as a starter, holding down that role for the first nine games until he was suspended for a violation of team rules. In the season opener against Maryland, Hill quickly made an impact, returning an interception for a touchdown and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. On the season, he recorded 51 tackles, six passes broken up, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.
At the NFL Combine, Hill backed up his high school testing numbers with a performance that boosted his draft stock — a 4.49 40-yard dash and a 4.15 shuttle. Given that he posted a 36.3-inch vertical in high school, his 31-inch vertical at the Combine may have been a result of physical fatigue from the testing.
On the field, Hill doesn’t lack for physicality — he’s capable of taking on and defeating blockers and is a strong open-field tackler who isn’t overmatched by opponents. Hill is scheme versatile and took on the challenge of facing off against some of the Big 12’s best receiver last season. Notably, he held Oklahoma State star James Washington to four catches for 32 yards, so he doesn’t have any major issues with his technique as a cornerback.
The issue with Hill is trust — can NFL teams trust that he will take care of business off the field so that he can leverage his remarkable physical talent on the field?
Had Hill avoided those issues in college, he could have gone as high as the first or second. Instead, he’ll likely hear his name in the third or fourth round because despite the legitimate concerns about him, it’s hard to pass up his high-level combination of size and skills.