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Vikings believe former Texas CB Holton Hill has ‘starter ability’

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Despite going undrafted, Holton Hill is impressing early and could emerge as a starter during his debut season with the Vikings.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, former Texas Longhorns cornerback Holton Hill was widely projected to hear his name called in the third or fourth round. Those rounds came and went, as did the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds of the draft and Hill was not among those called upon to walk across the stage as a newly-minted professional football player.

Character concerns, and more specifically, repetitive issues with marijuana use were to blame for Hill dropping out of the draft entirely, but nevertheless, he earned an undrafted free agent opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings.

That opportunity is one Hill has taken full advantage of thus far, as reported by NFL Insider Tom Pelissero.

“The rookie cornerback working opposite of (Mike Hughes) is another name to remember: Holton Hill, an undrafted free agent out of Texas,” Pelissero said. “The Vikings really wanted to sign him, so much so that they gave him $75,000 in guaranteed money on his contract; one of the biggest guarantees you’re going to find for an undrafted rookie around the league.”

”They think that Holton Hill has starter ability, maybe the most physical corner who came out in this draft class. He’s 6-foot-2, runs a 4.4 range 40. Ability was never the question, it was off the field issues for Holton Hill, and specifically marijuana. I spoke with Holton about this. He acknowledged he sought treatment for that last fall, got help with it; just identified what he wanted his place in life to be and how he was going to get there and make better decisions. He said that he has not smoked since before he went and got that treatment. I asked him, ‘How do you feel without it?’ He said, ‘Better.’ He’s hanging around the veterans, soaking up as much as he can, making sure he has positive influences around him.”

As Pelissero noted, ability was never the question with Hill. That was ever-apparent prior to his season-ending suspension in 2017, as Hill was largely responsible for Texas limiting Oklahoma State’s James Washington, Iowa State’s Allen Lazard, Baylor’s Denzel Mims, and TCU’s John Diarse to 174 total yards and not a single touchdown. Each of the aforementioned are now on an NFL roster with the exception of Mims, who will be a junior in 2018.

Now pitted against NFL receivers on a daily basis, Hill picked up right where he left off; so much so that the former Longhorns shutdown corner could find himself as a starter just months after going undrafted.

In nine games last season, Hill totaled 51 tackles, two interceptions — both were returned for touchdowns — defended six passes and forced one fumble.