Hey guys, have you heard that the NFL is a passing league!? *ducks
Every year, the demand for quality cornerbacks increases in the NFL due to the seemingly never ending quest for more points and passing statistics headed by Roger Goodell. Darius Hillary has been a very underrated and unheralded player throughout his collegiate career, and it shouldn't come as a shock if he makes a roster in the NFL.
Playing almost exclusively left corner in former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's scheme, Hillary was rarely targeted by opposing passers. That fostered this odd stat: In 2014 and 2015, despite having a combined 11 passes defensed, he had zero interceptions. This makes it tough to evaluate Hillary for NFL teams; is he simply ineffective while the ball is in the air? Can he not catch? Either way, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection this past season, despite those zero interceptions.
Hillary was opportunistic, recovering a fumble vs Minnesota as well as always being in position in coverage, so it will be interesting to see if the NFL will punish him for his lack of production in college.
Darius Hillary, CB
40-yard dash: 4.46
Vertical jump: 35"
Broad jump: 10'0.5"
Pro agility: 4.27
3-cone drill: 6.83
Bench press: 8
Strengths: Has been the Badgers' best cover man the past two seasons. Usually lining up to the field side of the formation, and inside in twins formations, he's shown the ability to play both spots well. Shows the ability to quickly flip his hips and turn and run with receivers when playing press coverage. Also shows ability to trail well in off-man coverage. A willing run defender. Shows good speed, ability to run downfield with receivers.
Weaknesses: Has probably maxed out his frame, and he's already on the small side. Narrow-shouldered. Not very physical, either in coverage or as a tackler. Had zero interceptions in his final two years as a starter. A drag-down tackler, will need to add mass at the next level.
Overall: Hillary has been a huge part of the ultra-productive and impressive Badger defenses over the past two seasons. He's lined up all over the field, and his versatility will appeal to NFL teams moving forward. The question will be asked: How much of his production (or lack thereof) was created by him, or by his strong supporting cast? I certainly think that there's a place in the NFL for Hillary, likely as a special teamer initially, before he possibly becomes a nickel slot corner.
Projection: Round 7-undrafted