Dalton Hilliard from UCLA may be the most underrated player available in the 2013 NFL Draft. A jack-of-all-trades at UCLA who saw time at LB, DB and RB on offense, Hilliard always made the most of his snaps, and even excelled on special teams. He made 5 starts and logged 33 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception. An invite to the Casino Del Sol All Star Game followed, where he returned an interception for a touchdown. Dalton is looking for a shot at an increased role in the NFL, and it was my pleasure to interview him for NFL Draft Zone.
Shaun DePasquale: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today Dalton. Can you tell me where you’re training for the NFL Draft?
Dalton Hilliard: I’m training in Duluth, GA at CES (Competitive Edge Sports) with Chip Smith.
SD: What do you feel are your strengths and things you may need to work on?
DH: I think my biggest strength is versatility. I can play any position, I even played on offense. I played man coverage, mostly at safety and I feel I’m a good cover safety. One thing I want to work on is tightening up my coverage skills. Just keep getting better.
SD: How do you feel your time at UCLA helped you prepare for the NFL?
DH: It taught me to be a leader. Playing for Coach Mora was great and I worked under 3 different coordinators during my UCLA career, so I’m used to learning new systems and I’m used to studying new defenses.
SD: What schemes/defenses do you feel best suits your talents?
DH: I can help anywhere. I like the 3-4 defense. I played what we call a “Jack ’backer” which is a hybrid LB/Safety. I can play CB in any scheme, I can play nickel back. I like being physical and I’m not afraid to take on linemen.
SD: Have you received any feedback from NFL scouts?
DH: Yes. They like my capability to play special teams. My footwork, that I’m stocky, and they like my coverage skills at the safety position.
SD: What was the Casino Del Sol All Star experience like for you?
DH: It was a great experience. I got to showcase my skills in front of scouts. . The practices were great and I got a pick-six in the game. I went out on a great note and showed scouts I’m a playmaker—put me on the field.
SD: Who was your role model growing up?
DH: My dad. He played college football as well but he blew out his knee and wasn’t able to make it to the NFL. Just watching him as a person impacted me. My mom also played football in a Women’s pro league.
SD: What has been your greatest accomplishment, athletically or personally ?
DH: Just getting to UCLA. Getting my degree, having a great senior season and beating USC last year.
SD: If you could have dinner with any 3 people, living or otherwise, who would they be and why?
DH: Stacey Dash- my crush; Michael Jordan because he’s the man, and my dad loves him; and Barack Obama because we actually went to the same high school, and I think it would be cool to talk to him.
SD: Give me the name of a teammate that doesn’t get nearly enough recognition.
DH: Linebacker Damien Holmes. He’s a good football player. Never gives up on a play, never quits, and makes up for any short-comings with effort.
SD: What message would you like to send to NFL teams about Dalton Hilliard?
DH: I’m probably the most underrated player in this NFL Draft. My stock will rise after Pro Day. I’m the most athletic player in this draft. I’m very versatile and hard-working. I’m very determined. If I get a chance on an NFL team, they will be happy with the results.
SD: Last question, what would be your first purchase with an NFL paycheck?
DH: A golf trip for my parents. I want to give a little something back to them.
SD: Thank you so much for your time Dalton. Good luck in your journey!
DH: Thank you for the opportunity Shaun.
Follow Dalton on Twitter! @dhills19