The Denver Broncos clearly didn’t have faith in Peyton Hillis and determined that he wasn’t a fit for their system. So, instead of continuing to carry him on the roster they shipped him off to Cleveland in exchange for Brady Quinn. No one though much of it at the time, but in retrospect the Browns committed a heist.
Hillis, a 2008 seventh round draft pick, had picked up just 81 carries over two seasons for Broncos amassing 397 yards. Before we give the Browns too much credit for uncovering a hidden gem, let’s not forget that he appeared buried on their depth chart as well to open the season. An injury to Montario Hardesty opened the door, as did the inability of Jerome Harrison (who was ultimately dealt to the Eagles).
Now, after delivering a year where he went for 1,177 yards and 11 TD, not to mention 61 receptions for 477 yards and 2 TD, we are left to wonder if he can replicate a successful campaign.
The big question is if he can stay healthy for an entire season. He plays an extremely physical style, which certainly helps lead to injuries. At various points in the season he suffered injuries to his knee, quad and ribs, helping to limit him a bit. Even the Browns have come out and said that Hillis was overworked last season, so you have to think that they are going to try and shelter him in 2011.
Speaking of the physical style, it also helped to lead to numerous fumbles. He had eight in 2010, which actually led the league (Cedric Benson, Ahmad Bradshaw & Jimmy Clausen were one behind him with seven). That’s a troublesome number, and could further lead to the Browns limiting his touches.
Hardesty, who injured his ACL in the first preseason game that necessitated surgery and cost him the season, is expected to be back for 2011. A second round pick in 2010, you would certainly expect him to be a major factor in the running game once healthy.
Assuming that Hillis’ carries will be limited, you have to wonder if the Browns will pass the ball enough to loosen up the defense or if there will even be enough carries to allow Hillis to be successful. Those are two huge issues, and both will certainly help to limit Hillis’ potential in 2011.
That’s not to say that he’s not going to be a usable option, but early in the second round he appears to be a pretty big risk. A potentially diminished role… Significant fumble issues… Can he stay healthy… There are just too many questions to select him that early.
He feels more like a third round selection, at best, which likely means I won’t be drafting him this season.
What about you? Do you view Hillis as worth drafting? Why or why not?