Running Back; Jeremy Hill
After losing Dion Lewis to the Titans, the Patriots wasted little time in finding a replacement for him. To help replace Lewis, the Patriots agreed to a deal with Jeremy Hill, formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hill was a highly regarded prospect coming out of LSU in 2014. During his rookie season, he showed why. Hill rushed for 1,124 yards on 222 carries, scoring nine touchdowns as well. The future looked bright for Hill, but that was his best season to date.
While he ran for 11 touchdowns in his second season, his yards per carry dropped from 5.1 to 3.6. It wasn’t much better in 2016, as he averaged 3.8 yards per carry. He hit rock bottom this past season, averaging 3.1. The biggest takeaway was that he didn’t score in 2017. He salvaged 2016 with nine rushing touchdowns.
Part of the reason for the drop in production was the Bengals losing talent each offseason. The backfield was also a mess, as he battled Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon for carries. Hill is the type of player that a change of scenery should help.
With New England, Hill could play a similar role that LeGarrette Blount played. Blount rumbled to 18 touchdowns in 2016. New England had hoped Mike Gillislee could fill that role in 2017, which he did only the first few weeks of the season.
Hill becomes the biggest running back on the Patriots roster. His signing should add a dimension to the team. This is another low-risk signing for New England, who could have found great value with Hill.
The only thing knocking this grade down is the next signing.