Houston Texans Select Pitt S Brandon Hill in Seventh Round of 2023 NFL Draft
Erick Hallett and Brandon Hill may not be playing in the same secondary next year, but they will both be playing in the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Hallett in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, and the Houston Texans followed up by selecting Hill with the 248th pick (seventh round).
Hill is the latest in a long line of Pitt defensive backs to selected in the NFL draft, joining Damarri Mathis, Damar Hamlin, Jason Pinnock, Dane Jackson, Avonte Maddox and Jordan Whitehead — and Hallett, of course — in recent years.
Welcome to H-Town, Brandon Hill 🤘 pic.twitter.com/hxQT61bD2P
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) April 29, 2023
Hill was a bit of a surprising exit after last season, having the option to return for multiple seasons, but he knew he was ready to make the jump to the next level.
“I felt like I was just ready for the opportunity to play the game at the highest level,” Hill said at the NFL Combine. “Excited for what this opportunity brings.”
He arrived as a young man, a kid who chose safety at Wekiva High in Apopka, Florida because it allowed him to hit the field fastest, and he just watched. He may have played in four games as a freshman, retaining a redshirt, but he watched. He watched Paris Ford lay people out. He watched Damar Hamlin fly around the box.
And after he watched guys like Ford and Hamlin for a couple of seasons, he stepped into his own as the next star safety at Pitt.
That defensive cohesion with not just Hallett, Marquis Williams and M.J. Devonshire but the entire defense allowed him to break out as a key defensive back — and a candidate to continue the legacy of Pitt defensive backs in the NFL.
In four seasons at Pitt, he racked up 172 tackles (91 solo), three tackles for loss, three interceptions, 12 pass breakups, three forced fumbles, two recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
Hill broke out as a star safety in 2021, earning All-ACC second-team honors for his efforts, racking up 71 tackles (38 solo), a tackle for loss, two interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a recovery.
While his 2022 impact wasn’t as apparent (67 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble returned for a touchdown), opposing quarterbacks didn’t throw Hill’s way in coverage as often. Over the last two seasons, Hill racked up 1,503 defensive snaps.
“It prepared me well because you can make a lot of checks, especially at the safety position at the University of Pittsburgh, so that’s also prepared me very well,” Hill said.
“I think that goes to coach Narduzzi and his coaching staff. They preach Pitt is a hard-nosed football team, and we just emphasize that. The DBs are the leaders of the defense and once they get everyone on the right page, Pitt is a hard defense to beat.”
Hill will join a rebuilding Texans squad now, looking to make an impact in the secondary as he did at Pitt.
I wish he would’ve stayed for another year. I think he’s going to be a great NFL player and could’ve went much higher (even first round) if he would’ve stayed one more year at Pitt. Great player and will be missed.