Michigan’s Chris Hinton wants to follow in father’s NFL footsteps

INDIANAPOLIS — As a youngster watching television, former Michigan defensive tackle Chris Hinton was perplexed when he saw his father on the screen.

He was watching a sports documentary on the John Elway trade and the role of Chris Hinton Sr., who was selected fourth overall by the Broncos.

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“Yeah, well that was funny because when I was younger I didn’t truly know all about who he was,” Hinton Jr. said. “I said they are doing a ‘30 for 30′ on you. He was like, ‘I was kind of a big deal.’ That was really cool.”

The elder Hinton went to the Colts in the trade and went on to play 13 years in the NFL, including four with the Falcons from 1990 to ‘93. He was a first-team All-Pro with Atlanta and a seven-time Pro Bowler.

The elder Hinton has been a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The younger Hinton, 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, participated in the scouting combine with the hopes of following in his father’s footsteps on the opposite side of the football.

“The older I got, the more I learned about how big he was and about his career. I know how great his career was, and hopefully I can follow the footsteps of my dad."

- Former Michigan star Chris Hinton, on his father

The former standout at Greater Atlanta Christian and AJC Super 11 player in 2018 elected to leave Michigan after his junior season.

“Talking to my dad, who has 13 years of experience playing in the NFL, has been good,” Hinton said. “Just talking to people in my inner circle. We felt like it was just the best decision to leave this year.”

Now the younger Hinton is fully up to speed on his father’s career.

“The older I got, the more I learned about how big he was and about his career,” Hinton said. “I know how great his career was, and hopefully I can follow the footsteps of my dad.”

The elder Hinton has let his child develop and is there if he has any questions. He has not been the overbearing football dad.

“I give him the most praise because he has all the credentials to be on my butt 24/7, but he really allows me to come to him when I have questions to really seek information from him,” Hinton said. “He really takes a back seat. When I ask questions, he gives 100%.

“I’m so thankful for the role that he played in my career. I know he’s going to be right there with me every step of the way.”

He consulted with his dad before coming to the combine.

“The best piece of advice that he gave me was just be where your feet are,” Hinton said. “Don’t think too far ahead. Just like this moment, this is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It’s great to be here. Great to be at the combine.”

Hinton played in 13 games last season and had 32 tackles in the middle of Michigan’s stout defense. He also saw action as a freshman and as a sophomore.

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Hinton believes he can play in a variety of NFL schemes.

“I feel like I’m strong enough to be a two-gap player,” Hinton said. “I feel like I’m also quick enough to be a one-gap player and get up the field. So, I feel like I’m best suited for any system.”

Hinton likely could have improved his draft position by returning to Michigan for another season.

“Honestly, being a junior and having that option to come back, it was not an easy decision,” Hinton said. “There will always be that ‘what if.’ ”

After consulting with his father and others in his inner circle, he elected to leave early.

“I talked to a lot of people like (Panthers defensive tackle) Derrick Brown, who I grew up with, and Corbin Bryant, he’s a really close family friend,” Hinton said. “They said whatever decision that you make, go forward and don’t look back because at the end of the day, you’re the one who’s got to live with the decision. I’m happy with my decision.”

Hinton will need to get into the right rotational situation in the NFL.

“Early-entry nose tackle with good lower-body power but enough on tape to get excited about,” wrote NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein. “(He) can sit down and defend his gaps and offers up a good fight against double teams. He will be scheme-dependent as he’s unable to disrupt in the gaps or stay on schedule against move-blocking fronts. He has potential as a backup run-defending nose, but a lack of rush and explosiveness will hurt his chances.”

Hinton, who ran the 40-yard dash in 5.28 seconds Saturday, would not mind being selected by the Falcons. He will do his bench press at Michigan’s Pro Day.

“That’s my hometown team,” Hinton said. “I grew up watching the Falcons. When they were on, nobody else was on. I loved watching the Falcons. I had a Michael Vick jersey when I was young. I grew up watching the Falcons a lot.”

Hinton had not met with the Falcons as of Friday.

“It would be a blessing (to play for the Falcons),” Hinton said. “Go back home, play for the home team and put on for my city and my state.”

Hinton trained for the combine in San Diego.

“They feel like I can use my quickness to my advantage and get some pressure on the quarterback,” Hinton said of his trainers.

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