Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions tackle Corey Hilliard (78) blocks Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) during the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Hilliard lost the battle to be the Lions starting right tackle in training camp, but won it back 16 offensive snaps into the regular season when Jason Fox went down with an injury. He has been solid in pass protection, giving up only a single hit on the quarterback in seven games, but he gets pushed around in the run game.
PFF has him graded an ugly -5.9 in run blocking this season, with his game against Minnesota being his only positive game. Of course, that was also the game he allowed five pressures on the quarterback. The grade goes down a bit because of his injury.
Considering Hilliard was technically the Lions’ backup right tackle coming into the season, he has actually been really good. There’s not much dropoff between Fox and Hilliard, so the fact that Fox got injured and nothing seemed any different is a testament to Hilliard’s positive impact.
During training camp, Hilliard was expected to either start or be a quality backup at right tackle. For most of this season, he has done both at a respectable level. He’s not blowing anybody away, but he’s also not blowing up his quarterback.
Hilliard has been a versatile, solid option in the Lions’ offense for years now, and this season he’s getting to show why. He’s not one of the best linemen in the NFL by any means, but the Lions could do an awful lot worse for their second option.