• Bret Rumbeck

Draft Analysis: Taysom Hill

You’ve either clicked on this analysis to see if I’m a total moron or if this was an April Fool’s day joke. How could anyone think BYU’s very own Taysom Hill is worthy of the second overall pick in the NFL draft?

He’s not. Let’s make that clear before we get any further.

Native Idahoans get hung-up on local talent, and already I’ve heard whispers of Hill getting drafted in the second or third round. It was the same kind of nonsense talk floating around the local bar when Kellen Moore was eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. Folks here were flabbergasted that Moore was not being considered the number one overall selection that year.

Hill has 37 games under his belt and 1,047 attempts. He completed 58.2 percent of his passes, threw 43 touchdowns and rushed for over 2,800 yards. Hill’s leaving college with numbers any quarterback would be proud of.

However, Hill’s college career reads more like the chart of a morgue corpse than a world-class athlete. He suffered a season-ending injury each year. He hurt his knee, broke his leg, fractured a foot bone and hyperextended his elbow. Despite the injuries, if you look at his full body of work at BYU, Hill had a good college career.

So why take a look at him? Because the 49ers need quarterbacks, and Hill would be an ideal seventh round choice or an undrafted free agent.

Hill is one of the few college quarterbacks I watched who took snaps under center. He comes from Ty Detmer’s offense, which includes various elements of an NFL system.

Against Mississippi State last season, BYU ran a play straight from Bill Walsh’s playbook: Green Left, 323 Thunder. The backs were in an I-formation, with the tight end and Z-receiver lined up to the left, and the X-receiver lined up right. Upon the snap, the fullback blocked to the right, with the halfback blocking left. Both receivers ran 5-yard hitch routes, with the tight end running a seam.

In fact, you can find this play described in the book Football’s West Coast Offense on pages 126-27. Also, note the photo of Ty Detmer on the inside cover, and the former BYU coach who wrote the book’s forward.

Now, one play does not make Hill the next Steve Young. No sir, not by far. But we do not see this kind of offense in college football anymore. Hill can come into the NFL already knowing the right footwork for a one-step, three-step, five-step and seven-step drop. That’s something Mitchell Trubisky or DeShone Kizer can’t say they know how to do.

Despite learning a pro-system, Hill struggles mightily in the pocket. He hits his back foot and then has trouble deciding what to do or where to throw. Now, in his defense, I did not see any all-22 film. Maybe everyone was covered, or a linebacker dropped into his throwing zone. But his indecision frequently happened in the four games I watched.

Hill is a threat to run the ball and had 259 yards rushing against the University of Texas back in 2013. That’s impressive. And I don’t mind a quarterback that can run. If the defense drops eight into coverage, then the quarterback is going to see a lot of green real estate in front of him. If he gains eight yards, why am I going to be upset that he didn’t wait for a receiver to open up at 12 yards?

With time in the pocket, Hill looks confident but has a clunky delivery. His motion looks a bit like Doug Flutie, and Hill has a tendency to open his left hip when throwing. It works for him, but it doesn’t look effortless or smooth.

Hill’s game against the much-disliked and highly overrated Boise State was a testament to his streaky play. He’d only completed four passes in the first half and ended up 21 of 41 for 187 yards. But, Hill brought BYU into field goal range with little time on the clock. A successful kick would have won the game for the Cougars.

Bad games happen to players; ask any quarterback in the Hall of Fame, and I bet he’d tell you how many garbage games he had as a professional.

Teams can’t test for on-the-field resiliency. There isn’t a combine drill or written test or interview that can show a player can battle through a God-awful game and lead a team to victory. Hill has this quality, but can it transition to professional football? The lights of the NFL shine brighter than they do at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Hill is going to end up on an NFL team at the start of May, whether he’s selected late or signed after the draft. I don’t see a downside of the 49ers taking a chance on the young man to round out the quarterback position going into mini-camp and OTAs.

Games Watched

vs. Nebraska (2015)

vs. Toledo (2016)

vs. Mississippi State (2016)

vs. Boise State (2016)