One of Chris Ballard’s more underrated selections in the 2018 NFL Draft was fourth-round pick (No. 104 overall) Nyheim Hines. The running back from North Carolina State will be entering the NFL with a head coach who has had a similar piece to work with in Darren Sproles in 2016 and even Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood last season due to Sproles absence.
Now, Sproles is even smaller than Hines, but in terms of how he was used — especially in 2016 — bodes well for Hines in his rookie season. Hines hauled in 69 receptions between his sophomore and junior seasons while he was used almost exclusively as a receiver in 2016, and much more of a feature back in 2017 with nearly 200 rushing attempts.
Frank Reich, though it seems almost cliche already to compare Hines to Sproles, will be moving Hines into various different spots in order to create opportunities for him in space. It seems as though Hines is excited to be used in any way Reich sees fit as well.
When asked about how the coaching staff visualizes his role in the Colts’ offense which was something he was quite familiar with.
“I think the coaches have a plan to use me in space and use me as a mismatch guy. I received the playbook last week so I have been studying really hard on that and this first day of practice we went through the script and I knew a lot of things and I have some things to work on. Every day is just a goal to get better.”
The Colts backfield is shaping up to allow him to hold down that role as he is the only running back on the roster listed at less than 200 pounds, and aside from maybe Josh Ferguson to a much lesser degree is the only one built for that type of role. Hines had the top recorded 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine amongst all running backs (4.38), and shows some great lateral agility and receiving ability on film as well.
Hines, you could say, presumed he’d be in the role the Colts coaching staff have in mind for him, and he’s not only embracing it, but appears to love the expectations that have been set for him.
“I’ve done it my whole entire life. I did it in high school. I did it in college. So I love to do it. And in this league, against professionals – anything they ask me to do I’ll do it. I’m really excited to be here and honestly, I’m living the dream so whatever they ask me to do I’ll do it.”
With Hines being added to this backfield, the Colts running backs project to be a diverse group who may just raise some eyebrows in the league when it’s all said and done. Hines’ approach and ability to be used virtually anywhere within the offense makes his addition a very exciting one for the future of the offense.