A lot has changed for defensive tackle
Drafted by Detroit in the fourth round out of Stillman College, Hill had a big jump from Division-II football to the NFL. He started all season, however, as the Lions’ biggest defensive lineman of his stature (Grady Jackson was 345 pounds at 6-2).
In fact, at 6-4 and 329 pounds, he is now officially the Lions’ biggest defensive lineman.
“This year is a whole lot different,” said Hill. “I’m more confident about what I’m doing. Just knowing the game a whole lot more than what I did last year. You come in not knowing anything and just come out here and work hard.”
Confidence was actually what the coaching staff told Hill to focus on this offseason.
Despite playing in 13 games last year with 12 starts, Hill struggled to find confidence that he, in fact, knew what he was doing out there.
“Last year was like a bumpy road, starting as a rookie, coming from Division-II and not having that confidence level that I needed,” said Hill.
Now he is in the middle of his first full offseason, secure in the fact that he does know the defense.
He is also feeling good about the upcoming season as he looks along the defensive line. Detroit has added players both inside and out including veterans
“Corey has been in the league quite some time and he’s a good mentor letting me know what I need to do and how to play the defensive tackle position,” said Hill. “Kyle Vanden Bosch – the man’s been in the league over 10 years now and he’s a great leader – and
“We have a good group – especially a good group of leaders. We’re coming along well.”
Hill says he is already impressed with Suh after just over a week of working with him.
“He’s going to be a good player,” said Hill. “He proved himself in college and worked hard every day so I think he’s going to come in here and do what they drafted him to do.”
Not only do these players impact Hill off the field, they will most certainly impact him on the field.
Tall and lean, Hill’s size and strength were assets for the Lions in both stopping the run and the pass rush. Teams would pay attention to him, making it difficult for him to truly showcase his strengths.
Hill is extremely mobile for a man his size, known for his pass rushing ability while at Stillman. In fact, he was so good at rushing the passer, the coaching staff made him a defensive end to essentially cut off one side of the field.
“I think other players will just free me up a little bit more where I can have a lot of one-on-ones instead of being double-teamed the majority of the time,” said Hill. “I think with the pass rushers including Corey and Suh – those are two big guys – that is going to take a lot of pressure off being double teamed.”
Not only will these players help strategically, they will help physically as well.
Hill was on the field a lot as a rookie, playing anywhere between 45 and 60 snaps a game.
“Having people like Corey and Suh and Landon (Cohen) and (Andre) Fluellen – all of us are nice-sized guys,” said Hill of the interior line. “It’s going to give us a much better break instead of playing nine-play series and things like that.”