INDIANAPOLIS — Over the last several years, Indianapolis Colts fans have admired from afar certain do-it-all offensive weapons who are small in stature — guys like Tyreek Hill, Darren Sproles, Randall Cobb, Devin Hester and Dexter McCluster — but can contribute as runners, receivers and returners.
Now, the Colts have a player with those types of abilities: fourth-round pick Nyheim Hines, a running back out of North Carolina State, and one of the most talked-about rookies in the class thus far.
The Colts have gushed about Hines since selecting him, and it was on display on the practice field during the offseason workout program, as he has been heavily involved in a multitude of ways. In order to get a good idea of some of the things Hines brings to the table, we turn to a Twitter Moment created by Matt Waldman of Rookie Scouting Portfolio and Football Guys that highlights this playmaker's abilities:
This clip shows Hines taking a handoff from the pistol formation and then setting up defenders in one direction while he cuts it elsewhere. Waldman says, "I want you to notice his ability to press the crease… He leans to the right to press that crease, and then bounces it back to the backside."
Waldman then mentions Hines' speed, cutting ability and pad level as he gets low under the defender.
I've actually also shared this clip before, showing Hines' balance and natural ability to make defenders miss. Waldman mentions Hines' balance against indirect contact, which is in full display here. The ability to use an effective spin move is difficult already, but to then use it immediately again after finishing the first one and successfully sending two defenders to the ground is something that cannot be taught.
Here, Waldman talks about how defenders have to hit Hines square and get in front of him because if you hit Hines indirectly/from the side, then he bounce off it or has the balance to keep his feet moving as he falls to the ground. As Waldman says, "He can create yards where there weren't."
Now, to the unsexy-yet-uber important ability for a running back to get their nose dirty in pass protection. Here, the off-ball linebacker loops around the edge to put pressure on the quarterback, but Hines keeps his eyes on him. At the point of contact, Hines completely cuts the linebacker's lower body and takes him out of the equation. For smaller backs like Hines (5-9), getting leverage and getting low like that is an effective way to take blitzers out.
This is another clip I've tweeted before as an example of Hines' willingness in pass protection. Rather than cutting the rusher low, Hines squares up, anticipates the linebacker's actions, approaches him and then "delivers the punch" on the linebacker. Waldman brought up a great point, saying, "He's (Hines) not big, and he gets knocked back a little bit, but because he's the first to deliver the blow, he also knocks the linebacker off balance."
We didn't get to see much of Hines in this week's mandatory minicamp as he left Tuesday's first day of practice with an injury and did not return to the field for the other two practices. So let these highlights stew for the next six weeks until the Colts' first training camp practice on June 26.