The 2018 NFL Draft Prospect series breaks down draft-eligible players, highlighting their college production as well as their NFL potential. Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
This piece is on North Carolina State running back Nyheim Hines, who has declared early for the draft. For the total list of all players leaving school early, see our underclassmen tracker.
For more on all the other backs in the class, see our 2018 NFL draft running back rankings.
Updated as of Mar. 4.
Junior | 5’8″ and 198 Pounds | Born November 12, 1996 (Age: 21) | Projection: Rounds 2-3
Combine numbers: 40-yard: 4.38 sec | bench reps: DNP | 3-cone: 7.18 sec | 20-yard shuttle: 4.35 sec | vertical: 35.5 in | broad: 119 in
A North Carolina high-school star, Hines was an in-state recruit for the Wolfpack who made his mark in three short seasons. His declaration for the NFL draft was something of a surprise, but he was probably productive enough in his time at NC State to warrant the jump. A first-team all-conference selection, Hines in 2017 became just the third player in the Atlantic Coast Conference over the last decade to have at least 1,000 yards rushing, 20 receptions, and a punt return touchdown in the same season: The first two were C.J. Spiller (2009) and Giovani Bernard (2012), both of whom were top-40 draft picks.
A running back and part-time defensive back in high school, Hines played primarily as a receiver and returner for the first half of his freshman year before returning to the backfield for the last five games. In total he turned 48 carries and 20 receptions into 499 yards and two touchdowns, adding an additional score as a kick returner. As a sophomore Hines was forced to play much more at receiver because of the team’s lack of depth at the position, and he finished second with 43 receptions, trailing only H-back Jaylen Samuels. On the season he totaled 569 scrimmage yards on 56 touches and once again added a score as a kick returner. A sprinter in high school, he also joined the Wolfpack track team in his second year and was named an All-American as the leadoff runner for the 4×100-meter relay squad. Unsurprisingly, he blazed the fastest 40 time of all backs at the 2018 combine.
As a junior, Hines again returned to running back and replaced the graduated Matt Dayes as the team’s leading rusher. Even though he had to share carries with Reggie Gallaspy II (116) and Samuels (77), losing 909 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing to the duo, Hines still turned his 223 touches into an efficient 1,264 yards and 12 touchdowns from scrimmage (plus a punt return touchdown) across 13 games. A talented and versatile player, Hines seems unlikely ever to be a lead back in the NFL because of his size, but he has the potential to be a long-time change-of-pace and difference-making receiving back. He’s firmly in the Day 2 conversation after his combine performance.
Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports