Offensive Line Coach Larry Zierlein

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TONY HILLSFOURTH ROUND SELECTION130th OVERALL

Larry Zierlein

RE: TONY HILLS

Offensive Lineman - University of Texas-Austin

4th Round – 130th Overall

 

Did you expect to see us earlier in the process?

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Not really.  I think there were some of those guys (offensive linemen) that went really fast.  From that point on it became a situation where the guys on the board were pretty good players that we had a chance to get at their positions.  I've never seen eight tackles taken in the first round – that's amazing.

 

Talk about Tony Hill's medical status.

 

The injury that he had out of high school was fine.  That didn't bother him in his career at Texas.  He got the knee injury towards the end of his senior year.  He's been cleared.  I worked him out about three or four weeks ago.  Everything with him is fine.  The high school injury was one that took care of itself, or the doctors took care of it, so that's not a problem.

 

Was the high school condition known as dropfoot?  Could you explain that?  It's supposed to be a rare injury to come back from.

 

No I sure can't.  He came back from it and played.  It may be rare, but he did it.  That's not a concern.

 

Do you see him as a project, or can he come in and contribute right away?

 

I think that he's a guy that can probably – it just depends on how quick he learns the system, how quick he learns techniques.  I expect him to come in and compete for a spot.  Not necessarily a starting spot at this point, but to be a contributor in some way. 

 

Is he more of a left tackle?

 

Well that's what he's played, but I think he can go both ways.  I think he can probably play the right, but he's been a left tackle.  He played behind Jonathan Scott (Detroit Lions), and the guys down at Texas compare him – I have friends on that staff – and they feel that he's a better prospect than Scott was.  Scott is starting for Detroit, and they think that this kid has more upside than Jonathan did. 

 

Does this mean that Willie Colon is a guard?

 

No.  It means Tony Hill is a tackle. 

 

That gives you five with Willie Colon.  Looks like you still need to draft another guard.

 

Well maybe if there's one there that we like, we will. 

 
 
 

He was a tight end in high school.

 

Yes, he was.  He was a tight end that they converted – I'm not sure when.  I think it was his freshman year that they converted him. 

 

Did he start for 2 years at Texas?

 

Yes. 

 

What are his assets as a player?

 

I'll tell you one thing – he's really big.  When I went down to work him out, and I've seen him, and watched him on tape, I really was surprised at how big he was.  He has long arms.  As a former tight end, he's a pretty good athlete.  His strength probably needs to develop a little bit, but he is athletic, he's big, and if you have those two things that's a good start. 

 

How do you see the line shuffling out?  Coach Tomlin recently wouldn't address where he sees Willie Colon.  Why the secrecy?

I didn't know there was a secret. 

 

How do you see things working out with Max (Starks)?

 

Just exactly like it ended up last year.  He'll get a chance to compete again.  There is no secrecy here.  I read on a blog or something that Willie was going to guard.  That's the first I've heard about it.

 

Your son is the one who wrote about it.

 

I know that.  That's the blog!  I said where did you get that?  And he said, "Well, I always just envisioned him as a guard."  I told him, "Well, you know where it looks like it came from, don't you?" 

 

Coach Tomlin did say the other day that you were going to practice him (Colon) some there.  He may have lit the fire. 

 

I don't know.  Right now, Willie is the right tackle.  Max will get an opportunity to compete. 

 

Coach, we haven't talked to you since Alan Faneca left.  What are your thoughts on him moving on, and potential guys to replace him at that left guard spot?

 

Chris is going to get the shot.  I'll tell you what, I have a lot of confidence in that guy. Aside from the physical thing, he's a big kid.  He was ready to play last year.  He was ready, and Kendall kind of won the thing, but it was close.  When we came out of training camp, preseason games, the grades were close.  But this kid is ready to play.  The thing that I told him the other day, "It's obvious to me, when you see blitzes, you understand it all.  Just become a little more verbal."  He understands things.  I like him, I really do like him.  I think he's going to be a good player. 

 

Will the line be better due to having spent a year under your coaching?

 

Yeah, probably so. 

 

After watching Max last year it's usually rare that a guy's better at left tackle then right.  Do you think he's possibly better as a left tackle?

 

Well here's what you have to understand about Max you know the one thing that happened with him is that we had to take care of Marvel (Smith) in pre-season.  Max had worked strictly at right tackle hardly any left and Marvel would play a few snaps and then we would put Max over there and Max didn't look very good and it's because he hadn't been there.  But to his credit throughout the season as he was not even playing he was working and he was working his techniques.  If you can remember what he looked like in pre-season compared to what he looked like at the end of the season when he was called on or what he looked like in these two OTAs we have had, which I know you all haven't seen he has improved substantially his techniques and I think he is better on the right and left side now.  We have tried to change some things and he's gone along with it and it's helped him.  He played left side in college and he can play the left side, but for me to say he's more of a left side guy then a right side guy I don't know for sure but I do have confidence in him on both sides.

 

It's probably a reach to say Marvel is a little injury prone, but in three of the last five years he's missed four games here and four games there.  How's his health and are you worried about how he is going to hold up next year and beyond?

 

Well he had surgery to correct a problem he's had and that probably contributed to it.  And I don't know Marvel's whole medical history but I would imagine that the problem he had last year carried over from before because he had the back problem before.  Hopefully this surgery would have cleaned some stuff up and taken pressure of that nerve.  Just as I don't understand drop feet I don't understand spinal injuries either.  I can't predict how Marvels going to hold up but I know one thing he said that he immediately felt a lot different after that surgery.  We tried to take it a little bit easier on him on these OTAs these past two days and he said it felt great.  That guys a worry, Marvel is.  Last year in that Jacksonville game the one it really showed up in I wasn't even aware of the problems he was having in that game.  His left leg was numb and he couldn't even feel it.  He'll go to the wall.  I think he's surgery gives him a chance to hold up I'm not concerned about that.  It's always a concern with any player in this league to go 16 weeks.  Hopefully the problem has been fixed. 

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