“They’re probably gonna be my backup.”
Jeremy Hill had that to say about any top running back the Bengals may draft later this month. On Tuesday, Cincinnati hosted LSU standout Leonard Fournette for a pre-draft visit.
But Hill seems confident he will remain the starting running back, regardless of who the Bengals draft.
“I sleep very well at night,” Hill told Andre Siciliano on Up to the Minute Live, “I got a great opportunity coming up ahead of me and that’s why I’ve been grinding hard this whole offseason.”
Fournette is not the first top RB prospect who has garnered interest from Cincinnati. The team met with Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook. Both could go in the first round. Mixon could slip due to the controversy stemming from an awful video of him striking a woman in 2014 and could be available to the Bengals in the second round.
Fournette, though, is a consensus first-round pick. If the Bengals want the bayou bulldozer, they will have to pull the trigger with the ninth pick. Cincinnati hasn’t drafted a running back in the top 10 since Ki-Jana Carter in 1995, a decision that never panned out due to injuries. Fournette would have to slip past Jacksonville at four, the Jets at six, and Carolina at eight if Mike Brown has any shot at him. All have a necessity at running back.
But Hill seems a-okay with the idea of a three-headed monster in the Queen City backfield.
“I would love to play with him,” Hill explained, “It would be a great backfield attack with Gio (Bernard) and I. It’d be amazing.”
Fournette’s numbers speak for themselves. As Hill’s successor with the Tigers, he ran for nearly 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns over a three-year span.
Perhaps the best part of Hill’s interview was that he faced the business side of the NFL. While Siciliano is trying to get any kind of newsworthy, jealous answer out of Hill, he continuously brushed off any negative comments.
“It’s what I do for a livin’, man, I compete,” Hill answered with a laugh.
He went on to talk about how he would serve as a mentor to any rookie on the team. And that the contract he signed didn’t say the Bengals would never draft a fellow running back while’s he’s on the team.
Although he’s saying the right things, it’s hard to argue with recent numbers or lack thereof. After a 1,100-yard breakout rookie season, Hill’s YPC has slipped under four in consecutive seasons and he’s had just two 100-yard games in that span, both against Cleveland. Last season, he was held under 50 yards in nine of 15 games.
But Hill is trying to change his fortunes heading into a contract year. In the same interview – which you can watch here – Hill said he is working this offseason on agility, breaking more tackles, and increasing his yards per carry mark and yards after contact.
Although the yards are down, Hill’s red zone acumen speaks for itself. Over the last three seasons, he has 29 rushing touchdowns, tied with LeGarette Blount for most in the league.
Expect Cincinnati to draft at least one running back at the end of the month, even if it’s not at number nine. RBs coach Kyle Caskey visited Texas running back D’Onta Foreman. According to CBS Sports, Foreman is the 10th-rated running back and a projected fourth-round pick.