Many draft analysts felt former Texas cornerback Holton Hill was at least a late-round pick, even though the 6-foot-2 talent was suspended for his final month with the Longhorns and reportedly failed a drug test at the combine in February.
The Vikings didn’t feel Hill was worth a draft pick, but pursued and signed him in undrafted free agency on Monday. After Hill’s first walkthrough with the Vikings, head coach Mike Zimmer defended the decision to bring him onto the roster.
“We spent a lot of time with him,” Zimmer said. “He was here on a top 30 [pre-draft visit]. We met him in Indianapolis [at the combine]. He’s a good football player: big fast, tough, good tackler. So we’ve had a lot of conversations with him. I’m excited. He’s got a chance. If he comes in here and does what we ask him to do, he’s got a chance.”
Hill (6-2, 196 pounds) started to hit a stride as a junior last fall. He had two interceptions (both returned for touchdowns) to go along with six pass deflections and 51 tackles in nine games for the Longhorns.
Then Hill was suspended by the University of Texas for the final month of the season for “violating team rules.” Afterward,, Hill decided to forgo his senior season for the NFL.
“I feel like it was the best decision for me,” Hill said. “Making the best of it.”
Hill joins a crowded Vikings secondary, one that said attracted him to sign with Minnesota after getting “five or six” offers from teams. He was projected as a fourth or fifth-round pick by NFL Media entering the draft, but reports of a failed drug test just two months prior likely didn’t help his cause.
“You make mistakes in the past, but you move on,” Hill said. “Build and go from there.”
The Vikings’ pre-draft research on Hill included talking with “every one of his coaches,” according to Zimmer, which led the Vikings to signing him after spending eight draft picks elsewhere.
“We’ve done our due diligence,” Zimmer said. “We’ve talked with every one of his coaches he’s had in his entire life, I think. We’ve talked to a lot of people down at the University of Texas. We feel comfortable with the situation. But you know it’s an opportunity and what he does with his opportunity is up to him.”