Cincinnati Bengals’ Jeremy Hill on the Path to Stardom


For better or worse, the Cincinnati Bengals have a number of big names that garner national recognition. The one player who’s consistently left out of those conversations is the fastest rising star on the roster.

That player is Jeremy Hill.

A second-round draft pick, Hill was the only rookie to rush for more than 1,000 yards in 2014. He’s already one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL, but the brevity of his production understandably limits the power of his name value.

You may not hear much about it, but Hill is already on the path to stardom.

Hill has his flaws, as every player does, but he’s one of the most promising players in the NFL. Despite his inconsistent playing time in 2014, he emerged as an imposing force who took over as Cincinnati’s No. 1 running back.

That doesn’t mean he’s satisfied, complacent or anything other than hungry.

According to Coley Harvey of ESPN, Hill knows exactly what needs to be done to be a better and more consistent player in 2015: beat the first defender.

"“For me, it’s just getting that acceleration from the first level to the second level,” Hill said earlier this month. “I’m just trying to lift my acceleration up and miss more tackles. That’s the biggest thing for me. The first guy got me down way too much last season.”"

A player who’s committed to improving his game is one on the right path.

Hill’s comments follow a season during which Hue Jackson publicly and privately criticized Hill. That isn’t a sign of a weak relationship, but instead an example of a passionate coach seeing big things for his young running back.

After Hill touched upon the Bengals’ offensive struggles when an opponent brought a safety down, Jackson told the 22-year-old to turn his attention to something else, per Harvey: himself.

"“Jeremy don’t play quarterback. What Jeremy needs to do is run the ball. What Jeremy wants to do — I don’t care if it’s eight men or seven men — break tackles, OK? That’s what running backs do. They break tackles and that’s it. At the end of the day, his job is to run through somebody and come out the other side and go find a way to score, period. So all his drop-down, who did this, did what — that ain’t his call.”“He has to block the safety,” Jackson said. “Didn’t you just say eighth man in the box? That’s the back’s job. The great back, that’s his job. So that’s what you need to tell Jeremy for me.”"

Standing at 6’1″ and 238 pounds, blocking and breaking tackles shouldn’t be an issue for the former LSU Tigers star. As previously alluded to, it’s going to be Hill’s top priority in 2015.

The funny thing about all of this is that Harvey and ESPN Stats & Info report that Hill ranked No. 4 in the NFL in average yards after contact in 2014.

The only three players who ranked above Hill were LeGarrette Blount, Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy. Lacy and Lynch are both solidified and established stars, while Blount just won a Super Bowl ring.

Blount, amongst others, has historical ties to Hill’s rookie season.

Hill finished the 2014 regular season with 1,124 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry. That’s as historically significant as it seems.

According to, Hill became the first rookie to run for at least 1,000 yards on 5.0 yards per carry or better since Blount in 2010. That’s a solid distinction.

As the shortlist expands beyond Blount, things get interesting.

Historically, Jeremy Hill’s rookie season is comparable to

Adrian Peterson

‘s. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The five most recent rookies to achieve the feat before Hill in 2014 and Blount in 2010 were Adrian Peterson in 2007, Clinton Portis in 2002, Mike Anderson in 2000, Barry Sanders in 1989 and Ickey Woods in 1988.

Per, only 10 players in NFL history have run for at least 1,000 yards on 5.0 yards per carry or better at 22 years old or younger.

  1. Jim Brown in 1958
  2. Franco Harris in 1972
  3. Ickey Woods in 1988
  4. Barry Sanders in 1989 and 1990
  5. Clinton Portis in 2002 and 2003
  6. Adrian Peterson in 2007
  7. Ray Rice in 2009
  8. Jonathan Stewart in 2009
  9. LeSean McCoy in 2010
  10. Jeremy Hill in 2014.

That’s some absolutely extraordinary company.

There’s no guaranteeing that Hill will finish his career with the accolades of Brown, Harris, Peterson or Sanders. In fact, it wouldn’t be very logical to suggest that he will.

Fortunately for the Bengals, Hill has the physical tools and passion to build upon his rookie season, as opposed to floundering in the waters of deep and murky waters of expectation.

Between his size, strength, deceptive explosiveness and will to improve, Hill could be the Bengals’ next great player.

Next: Who is your favorite NFL team's top MVP candidate?

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