Cincinnati applied the "that came out of nowhere" philosophy when employing Bengals rookie Ryan Hewitt as the team's H-back, after signing him as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford. Per several NFL draft organizations, Hewitt was rated anywhere from the second-best to the fifth-best fullback in the draft. Three fullbacks were selected in the 2014 NFL draft: Auburn's Jay Prosch (drafted by the Texans in the sixth round), Arkansas's Kiero Small (drafted by Seattle in the seventh round) and Oklahoma's Trey Millard (drafted by San Francisco in the seventh round).
"Possesses broad shoulders and the frame to handle an additional 10 pounds of muscle," Rob Rang, with NFL Draft Scout wrote of Hewitt last spring. "Good quickness out of his stance, showing lateral agility and balance to gain separation from defenders. Reliable hands. Can extend and pluck outside of his frame and secures the ball quickly, showing the ability to take a big hit and hang on. Locates targets quickly as a lead blocker and shows good use of leverage and leg drive to knock defenders out of the hole. Sinks his hips and anchors well in pass protection. Versatile player with the size and experience to play multiple roles."
Pro Football Focus graded Hewitt as the league's fifth-best fullback this season (among all qualifying fullbacks) with an overall score of +4.1 and a run block grade of +2.6. John Conner, one of the more favored players for Bengals fans, finished tied for 12th-best. Pro Football Focus named Hewitt as their top fullback during the third quarter of the season:
About 40% of Hewitt’s snaps have come in the last three weeks and his quality showings as a lead blocker against New Orleans (+2.3) and Tampa Bay (+2.9) propels him ahead of the ever-present Anthony Sherman this month.
Lewis knew early that he had something special in Hewitt, who was the lone college free agent in 2014.
"I thought as far back as May and June that he was going to be a very good NFL player, but yeah, I would say I think he exceeded (expectations), because he did it quicker than I expected," said Lewis via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I didn't know his role was going to be as big as it was this year so I was really pleased with him."
Hewitt caught 10 passes this season for 86 yards receiving.