DT Sammie Hill is the run stopper the Lions need

Posted Jul 3, 2012

The Lions’ defensive line has become one of the better units in the NFL because of its versatility and depth. The team has a good mix of speed rushers – both outside and inside – complemented by a few powerful defensive tackles who can stand up against the run and get to the quarterback themselves.

Reserve defensive tackle Sammie Hill isn’t usually referenced when people talk about the unit, that's normally reserved for players like Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch. But Hill has steadily become an important piece in that defensive tackle rotation. He is the largest of the teams’ defensive tackles (6-4, 330) and is a big body to move in that interior.

The Lions plucked Hill out of small Stillman College in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. He was a raw talent, rotating between defensive end and defensive tackle in college, with a former linebacker as his position coach.

The Lions took a shot on Hill and he's developed progressively over the last three seasons. Enough so that the Lions offered him an original-round (fourth round) restricted free agent tender this offseason worth $1.26 million.

“I’m expecting a big year from Sammie Hill,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew recently said. “I feel good about our defensive line. We’ve got some depth and talent in that group.”

Hill’s realizes that his biggest contribution to the unit is his size and he understands his role and his job when he's in the game.

“I feel like I’m more a run stopper than anything else,” Hill said. “It is what it is. As a big guy, it’s easier for me to stop the run while on my way to the passer.”

Hill collected 24 tackles last season to go along with 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 16 games (three starts).

The Lions ranked No. 1 in the NFL last year in holding opponents to a 37.9 conversion rate on third- and fourth-down and 1. That’s normally a situation where the Lions call upon Hill’s talents. It’s no surprise that one of Hill’s more productive games last year (four tackles) game against the run-oriented 49ers.

“It’s great that we have Nick (Fairley) and (Ndamukong) Suh, who are good speed rushers,” Hill said. “You could include Andre Fluellen in there, too.“But I’m going to keep stopping that run on my way to the quarterback.”

The fact that Mayhew made it a point to single out Hill when he asked about the defensive line during mini-camp shows the expectations placed upon Hill entering his fourth NFL season.

“There isn’t no first-team or second-team with us,” Hill said. “When our name is called we all go out there and handle our business.For me, I feel like I’ve been improving every year and I’m just going to keep going out there and working hard and trying to develop more each and every day."

“Whenever you get three or four good guys together, and even five in our case, it’s great knowing that you have some experienced guys and some young guys with a couple years under our belt who can go out and do what they’re supposed to.”