How Tyreek Hill can excel as a running back in Miami’s offense

To the surprise of many, the Kansas City Chiefs placed star wide receiver Tyreek Hill on the trade block this offseason. The Miami Dolphins and their longtime AFC East rival – the New York Jets – were reported as the two frontrunners in trade discussions.

The Dolphins won these sweepstakes, sending a first, second and fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, along with a fourth and six-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, to the Chiefs in return for the services of the six-time NFL Pro Bowler. Miami then gave Hill a four-year extension worth up to $120 million with $72.2 million guaranteed.

Hill has proven throughout his six-year career to be one of the most explosive offensive weapons the league has ever seen. He has terrorized NFL defenses, whether it is in the vertical passing game with his ability to get behind safeties on deep post and fly routes or his knack for picking up yards after the catch on short and intermediate routes.

This terror also extends to the run game, where Hill has been effective in small sample sizes.

Hill played mostly at running back in his one season at Oklahoma State, recording 534 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry. His 5-foot-8, 185-pound stature limited his success on inside hand-offs, but outside the tackle box, he was a big-play threat.
Once Hill was able to advance to the second and third level of defenses, he was a nightmare to bring down.

Kansas City drafted Hill in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft as a gadget player. He found an immediate role on the team as a special teams ace, scoring on one kick-off and two punt returns for touchdowns. The rookie was honored as a first-team NFL All-Pro member as a punt returner.

The 2016 season was also Hill’s most noteworthy as a running back, racking up 267 yards on 24 carries. He has still been used in the run game since then, but this utilization has been more infrequent. Hill has not surpassed the number of rushing attempts he received in his rookie year.

Under new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, this very well could change. Hill has drawn comparisons to 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who was a key cog in San Francisco’s run game while McDaniel was a coach there.

“As far as exact ways we’ll use Tyreek Hill relative to the way Deebo Samuel was used in San Francisco, there’s probably going to be some overlap to some degree on San Francisco,” McDaniel said at the NFL Annual Meeting.

“Deebo Samuel evolved into that role because of circumstance,” McDaniel continued. “I expect there will be no difference really with Tyreek. We’re going to start with the foundational elements of the receiver position, but I promise you we’re not going to limit or — we’re going to continue the process of developing him and the Miami Dolphins football team.”

While Samuel was used as a between-the-tackles running back given his bulkier size, Hill projects more as a player who can damage defenses on outside sweeps and tosses. Both the sweep and the toss are foundational in McDaniel’s run scheme.

Hill’s ability to pressure defenses out of the backfield is not limited to just the run game. In San Francisco, the offenses that Mike McDaniel helped lead threw to the running backs a lot. The Niners targeted backs on 135 passes in 2020.

A wideout like Hill, who has gained over 6,600 receiving yards throughout his NFL career, would be a dangerous threat if used in that way.

The three-time All-Pro will play primarily at wide receiver for the Dolphins, but there are some imaginative and creative ways for him to get the ball aside from just at that position. At running back, a role in which he already has experience playing, Hill has the potential to take Miami’s offense to another level.



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