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Colts Offseason Scouting Report: Running Back Nyheim Hines

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

We are now in the dull period for being an NFL fan as we enter the post-draft time period of the offseason. While most people are looking ahead to the 2019 NFL season, I decided to take a step back and really evaluate the talent on this Colts’ roster. Over the course of this offseason, I will be going back through the roster and putting together scouting reports and film rooms of some of the more unheralded players on this roster.

The next player we are going to be looking at is running back Nyheim Hines. Hines was impactful in his first season as he finished with 148 touches for 739 yards in his rookie season. His production did fade a bit down the stretch as Marlon Mack established himself as the number one running back on the team but Hines did produce in his complementary role.

Today we are going to be looking at film from his rookie season in order to see what he excels at. I provide my scouting report at the bottom as well as looking forward into what the future may bring for this talented ball carrier.


Background

Size:

5’8” 198 pounds

Measurables (Combine):

40 Time: 4.38 / Bench Press: 11 Reps / Vertical Jump: 35.5 inches / Broad Jump: 121 inches / 3-Cone: 6.9 seconds

Career Stats (College):

258 rushes for 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns. 89 catches for 933 yards and 1 touchdown. 88 returns for 2,171 yards and 1 touchdown.

Career Stats (Pro):

85 rushes for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. 63 catches for 425 yards and 2 touchdowns.


Scouting Report

My scouting reports will be in the same style/format as the Anthony Arena Draft Guide that we put together this offseason. I will be looking at how these players grade out in each trait, their best positional fit, and a two-three year outlook on their career.


Elusiveness

Hines is a shifty and quick running back out of the backfield. He has the quickness to make defenders miss in tight quarters and the shiftiness and speed to win in the open field. A lot of the yards he creates are after the catch and after contact. He understands how to make people miss and it is one of the reasons why he is a weapon in this Colts’ offense.

Hines loves his spin move in tight space. This play is just a simple hand off up the middle that he creates space with. He spins to the outside once the inside lane is clogged up and puts a nasty stiff arm on the cornerback. He then spins off of another defender before being brought down inside of the five yard line. He is extremely hard to tackle, even in tight spaces with the entire defense surrounding him.

He’s elusive in tight spaces but he is even better in the open field. Here he is matched up at the bottom of the screen with standout linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith was one of the better linebackers in football last season and made a ton of plays for the Cowboys. Hines though, makes him look foolish on this play. He catches the ball on the curl route and effortlessly sidesteps Smith for a first down.


Athleticism

The best trait that Hines has in his game is just his pure athleticism. As a sprinter in both high school and college, he posted a career best time in the 100m dash at 10.34 seconds. For anybody who doesn’t know how fast that is, that time would have placed him 3rd in the 1980 Olympics for the 100m dash. He also ran one of the fastest 40 times at the combine with a 4.38. For a player who is likely over 200 pounds now, that is insane speed and burst.

That speed and burst shows up all over his film. This play is insanely impressive when put into perspective. Hines stumbles a bit in the backfield when he takes the shaky hand off from Luck on the reverse. This gives linebacker Tremaine Edmunds— a linebacker who ran a 4.54 at the combine— an extra step on him. Hines is still able to regain his balance and beat Edmunds to the sideline for a nice gain. This type of speed and acceleration is what makes him such a dangerous player.

The full package of athleticism is shown here. A quick sidestep in the hole opens up a small gap for him to slide through. He then burst though the open lane and gets up field. He makes a couple quick moves getting up field before hitting that second gear and getting to the third level of the defense. He is able to turn simple run delays into huge gains like this with his athletic ability.


Contact Balance

His contact balance compared to other running backs is certainly above average. He made a ton of splash plays last season where he was able to contort and twist his body through tight running lanes and still remain on his feet. He does need to improve on his balance when fighting through contact but for a first year back who is known more for his athleticism, he is well above average in this area.

Hines’ run against the Redskins was one of the top plays of the year for the Colts. He makes a linebacker miss in the hole before cutting back inside. He then tries to do his patented spin move but cuts it a little low and he starts to lose balance. He keeps his legs moving though and stays on his feet just long enough to score the touchdown. The ability to twist his body here and fight through for the touchdown is incredible.

Despite having the occasional struggles overall with his contact balance, this is a good example of him fighting through contact for extra yards. Here he has to squeeze through a tight gap in order to get to the second level. He gets through the hole but gets hit by a defensive lineman as he does so. He is able to keep his feet moving forward for a few extra yards. I would love to see more of these types of plays going into 2019.


Receiving Ability

When Hines first arrived at NC State as a Freshman, they asked him to play wide receiver. He was moved to running back going into his Sophomore season but his ability as a receiver still shows up on his NFL tape. He is an excellent route runner out of the slot with reliable hands. He catches the ball well in traffic and even made a few plays down the field where he was asked to high point to ball. He is like having an extra receiver on the field at all times.

Hines is lined up outside the numbers on this play, matched up with safety Tyrann Matthieu. Hines is likely just running a clearout fade to the corner to open up the underneath pass but Andrew Luck decides to throw the ball his way. Hines is able to go up and get the pass, high pointing the ball well and coming down in bounds on the play. An excellent play by a 5’8” backup running back against one of the better safeties in the NFL.

As a receiver in the slot, Hines was also excellent. Here he is running a slant behind the clearout from TY Hilton. He is able to get a little bit of space between himself and the defender and he creates separation with a nice, swift cut. He catches the ball away from the defender and is able to hold on through the contact. If this player wasn’t wearing a number on this play, it would look like a receiver out there running routes rather than a running back. He is a versatile threat in both the run and the pass game.


Vision

Vision was a bit of an issue for Hines last season. He was at his best when asked to run downfield and not have to make reads. When he had to find a hole or a gap, he did struggle a bit. He struggled the most when he was asked to push outside on sweeps or stretch plays. He rarely found the cut back lane and often times kept pushing outside even though there was room in the middle.

The most notable example of this is on this sweep play. Hines has clear room to cut up field but instead decides to keep pushing outside. If he takes the space given to him up the middle, he likely gets 4-5 yards. By going outside, he ends up losing yards on the play. Wrong reads and decisions like this are costly but I fully expect Hines to improve in this area going into year two.


Pass Blocking

Another area where Hines did struggle last season. Compared to the other running backs on the roster— Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, and Spencer Ware— Hines is likely the weakest pass protector of the bunch. He has a hard time reading stunts and twists and is just too small to take on free rushing linebackers and defensive lineman. He can certainly improve here but I’d much rather have Wilkins in on pass protecting downs.

Here is one example of his struggles. He reads the blitz correctly but doesn’t have the power or strength to really disrupt the rush. He is able to knock the linebacker off of his desired path but Luck is still forced to leave the pocket. I’d rather see Hines out in the slot or running routes on passing plays rather than staying in to block. He is much more of a difference maker as a route runner.


Positional Fit

Hines is an odd positional fit because he is so unique of an athlete and a receiver. His best fit though is as a change of pace running back who can add another dynamic to the running game. When he is not in as a runner, he can be subbed in a slot or gadget player as well. A player who just needs to get the ball in his hands somehow and make things happen. He can excel though as either a slot wide receiver or a change of pace back.


Future Outlook

Hines is an insanely talented player who is versatile enough to play multiple roles. He had a great rookie season but his playing time and production did fade a bit down the stretch. He needs to build off of his impressive start to 2018 as we roll into the 2019 season. If the Colts use him more as that true change of pace runner and scheme more touches on reverses or screens to him, he could be a very productive player who passes 1,000 total yards a couple times in his career. He will likely never be a true starter at any position, but he can be used in a ton of roles for the Colts going forward.