Few will argue that Justice Hill made himself some moola last week at the NFL Draft Combine when he topped all participating running backs in the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump and the broad jump. But just how much?
While Justice definitely raised his profile among 2019’s class of tailbacks, he is still absent from any first-round mock drafts I could find, and will likely remain that way. But he did generate some buzz with a couple of teams.
Of the teams he met with, the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be showing some interest. Could the departures of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell open doors to playing time for both James Washington and Justice Hill? That would be wild.
I previously predicted Justice as a Day 3 pick, but his impressive outing in Indy should be enough to move him up a day. As things are trending now, Hill’s ceiling in the draft is probably a mid second- to third-round selection. If he was previously destined to be a fifth- or sixth-round pick, how much of a difference does that make from a business standpoint.
Just for the sake of conversation, let’s say Justice does end up in the Steel City with his two former teammates, and build a projection on that.
Based on info from Spotrac, Pittsburgh’s second-round pick (No. 52 overall) brings with it a projected contract of $5.5 million. Its third-round pick (No. 83) will include a contract worth approximately $3.8 million. If Justice were to fall to the sixth round (Pittsburgh picks at 175 and 192), he would be looking at one of two contracts worth roughly $2.7 million each.
So talking strictly dollars, you could be looking at up to double the salary by moving up three rounds. But more important than total potential earnings is guaranteed money.
While all drafted players get a four-year contract (undrafted free agents are limited to three-year deals), only first-round picks are guaranteed all four years of said deal. Second-round picks at the top of the order are guaranteed two years while those later in that round may only be guaranteed one year. If you are selected in the third round or later, the only thing guaranteed is your signing bonus.
A lot can change between now and late April and his stock can go up or down, and team needs can change. Hill still has his pro day at OSU on March 12 to meet with teams and participate in any drills that he missed (apparently due to injury). But aside from displaying his skills as a pass catcher, I don’t see him doing much from a physical or skill standpoint that could move the needle much more than it already was last week. And from a business standpoint, that was plenty.