Bengals great Ken Riley stepped onto the podium at the 2014 NFL Draft to announce his former team's second-round pick, and with the 55th-overall selection, Cincinnati took LSU running back Jeremy Hill.
Hill was regarded as of the top running backs in this year's class after rushing for1,401 yards (6.9 ypc) and 16 touchdowns while catching 18 passes for 181 yards 10.1) in 12 games.
He tied a school mark with seven 100-yard games, including a 216-yard performance in the Outback Bowl.
Hill will have the opportunity to be a very, very good NFL running back. He's a classic 20-carry-a-game pounder, with the added bonus of having a good mind and set of skills for the passing game. An NFL franchise would be right to have some concerns about Hill's judgment and maturity, but by most accounts he has handled the draft process openly and honestly and I think they'll like what they find as they dig in to his background. Plus, he's likely to get a very rousing endorsement from people in the LSU program. As a football player, Hill would fit a number of NFL teams well as a situational back, if not as a starter. He has an argument to be considered the top runner in this draft, and I would be stunned if he didn't come off the board in the second or third round.
However, Hill is exactly the type of player that Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown have talked about with their approach to the draft with the avoidance of character issues. He was arrested twice in his time at LSU, including one in 2011 for sexual battery -- leading to a guilty plea to misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
The second was for assault leading to probation through July 12, 2015. At the very least, his arrests were several years ago. People grow in that amount of time.
Earlier this year, Hill sent out a letter to all 32 teams in an effort to explain his past.
"I put myself in that situation, but, like I said, I can't really focus on that," he said. "All I can do is make the right decisions going forward and put myself in the best position possible. ... I'm just moving forward and doing the right things from here on out."
Hill also said that NFL teams are aware of his past.
"It's just up to me to be honest about it and let them know ... everything that happened, and everything else will take care of itself after that," he said.
He joins Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard as the Bengals' two current draft picks this year.