Goodbye, Chris Hinton, Jr.

Goodbye, Chris Hinton, Jr.

March 10, 2022
Chris Hinton, Jr. (image via Maize ‘n’ Brew)

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Hinton always had the spotlight on him, considering he’s the son of former 1st round NFL draft pick Chris Hinton. He attended Norcross (GA) Greater Atlanta Christian and was a 5-star, the #4 defensive tackle, and #31 overall in the class of 2019. Originally rated as a strongside end – which confused me at the time – he eventually ended up ranked as a DT, where he finished up behind Zacch Pickens (South Carolina), DeMarvin Leal (Texas A&M), and Travon Walker (Georgia); Pickens is returning to South Carolina, while Leal and Walker joined Hinton in declaring for the draft after three years. Here’s my original commitment post (LINK) and a link to the final TTB Ratings for 2019, where I gave him a 90 (LINK)

Hit the jump for more.

Hinton wasn’t good as a true freshman (10 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss). He was solid during the shortened 2020 season (13 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU). And he really improved in his final season in Ann Arbor (33 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU, 1 FF). That’s the trajectory one expects from a defensive tackle, and truthfully, I don’t really expect tackles to hit their peak until year four or year five. There’s a lot of technique and strength involved, and players also have to get used to playing with technique and strength for four quarters.

56 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble

Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2021)

Hinton turned into a solid player, but he was never extraordinary. He showed some flashes late in his freshman year, and unfortunately, the entire defense was terrible in 2020. I had some fears in 2020 that Hinton would leave Michigan prior to reaching his potential, and that seems to be the case. Once he had even a decent season, he was ready to hit the road and try to get paid. It seemed that Michigan didn’t ask its defensive tackles to do much in 2021 since they had such a good pass rush coming off the edges from Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Rather than playing many games with those interior guys, Michigan largely seemed to just ask them to hold their ground, maintain their rush lanes, and lane Hutchinson/Ojabo eat up the offensive tackles. It was the right move for the defensive structure as a whole, but it didn’t help the tackles shine much. Then, of course, I also have questions about the effectiveness of (since departed) defensive line coach Shaun Nua. I have no doubt that turncoat former DL coach Greg Mattison would have turned Hinton into a beast.

. . . not reaching his potential in a Michigan uniform. I sound like an old fogey, I’m sure, but I remember a time when college players would stay in college until they were actually good. Nowadays these young whippersnappers just stay in college until they broach the edges of their potential, and then they think they’re ready for the NFL. (I’m being somewhat facetious; plenty stay until they’re good.) Regardless, when you land a 5-star defensive tackle, you expect more than 4 career tackles for loss, 2 career sacks, and an honorable mention all-conference selection.

Hinton measured in at the Combine at 6’3 5’8″ and 305 lbs. He ran a 5.28 forty, had a 31.5″ vertical jump, and broad jumped 8’10”. He has a chance to improve those numbers at Michigan’s pro day and add to them by doing the rest of the workout, but there’s little reason to believe that he will suddenly wow scouts with his athleticism. He’s a guy who has to win with technique, consistency, and motor, and he’s just not where he needs to be right now. I think he will probably be somewhere around a 6th round pick, and he’s a guy who might be a rotational player down the road. I don’t see him being a Pro Bowler or even a consistent NFL starter.

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