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Prospect Roundup: NC State Running Back Nyheim Hines

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t one to throw up smokescreens when targeting position groups in the pre-draft process. With LSU RB Derrius Guice and San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny coming in for official visits, along with several other meetings and interviews within the position, chances are high that the Eagles add a new piece to their running back stable.

The status of free agent RB Darren Sproles is up in the air, Jay Ajayi is on the last year of a rookie deal, and Corey Clement is the only other consistent, known quantity on the roster. Thus, the Eagles are doing their due diligence with an eye toward the future.

Working through this running back class, one back that popped immediately was NC State’s Nyheim Hines. For having started his career as a wide receiver, amassing 89 catches, 933 yards and a touchdown during his three year college career, Hines showed an impressive understanding for how to play the running back position.

His toolbox also contains a returner’s skillset, taking back 2 career kick returns and making the most of his 12 reps as a punt returner by taking one to the house and averaging 11.3 yards per punt return. This was possible, in part, due to his blazing straight-line speed.

While not the loosest back in regard to lateral agility, Hines boasts good contact balance and an understanding of how to absorb incoming contact. Leveraging his explosive burst, he also shows an ability to vary his stride to create favorable angles before leaving defenders in the dust. In his first year with a significant workload, Hines toted the rock 197 times for 1,113 yards (5.6ypc) and 12 touchdowns.

With the fastest 40 time among running backs at the NFL Combine and a versatile skillset, Hines could find a suitor in Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft. If he falls to Day 3, don’t expect him to last long, and he should be gone before the Eagles are slated to pick in the fourth round. Howie Roseman has expressed the desire to obtain more draft capital, making a selection like Hines more of a possibility.

Take a look at what the media is saying about Hines:


“Returns punts, kicks, catches the ball out of the backfield. Real good running ability… a guy who kind of has that (Darren) Sproles ability. He’d be a good pick for somebody.”


“Hines has dual-threat talent but doesn’t have the size for full-time work at running back and is in need of much more work as a receiver. Hines’ value to teams could rest upon how they envision using him. It is possible that he benefits from the success of Saints rookie Alvin Kamara with teams looking to plug him into that role, but he’s not on Kamara’s level. Hines is a linear runner whose ability to cut and burst would fit with teams looking for a change of pace back in an outside zone running scheme.”


“Because N.C. State ran almost exclusively inside and outside zone, Hines scheme fit is probably more limited than other players. Of course, most NFL teams run at least some mixture of zone and gap/power concepts, but Hines size may push teams to pigeonhole him as a predominantly outside zone runner, and there is more of a shortage of teams that run that as their primary scheme. Atlanta, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and a few others would be good fits for Hines schematically, who has third down back ability right away and could blossom into something more as he earns touches.”


“An undersized back who runs tougher than his frame might suggest, Hines has an intriguing skill set that will get creative offensive coordinators excited at the next level. His lack of a heavy workload should mean he’s got plenty of tread left on his tires, and his best football is likely still ahead of him. He could make an immediate impact on special teams, and in the right offensive system.”


“Overall, Nyheim Hines is one of the most dangerous and explosive players in this draft class. The 5-foot-9 speedy back can find the end zone as soon as he finds a small crease in the defense… His ability to play out wide and help in the passing game adds yet another element to his game… Hines unique and special ability to burn defenses as a ball carrier, receiver, and as a kick or punt returner makes him an ideal prospect on day two.”


“If you’re a fan of speed and big plays, [Hines] is the running back for you. The running back has top end speed and explosiveness and could very well be one of the fastest running backs in this year’s class. Hines used his athleticism and track star experience to run for over 1100 yards this season. For teams looking for a playmaker who can make things happen with the ball in their hand whether its off a handoff, catch or kick return, the N.C. State running back will surely be an appealing option.”

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