Nine former Utah Utes declared for the NFL draft this offseason with hopes of continuing their football careers and playing professionally.

Here’s a look at offensive lineman Keaton Bills.

Keaton Bills, offensive guard

  • Height: 6-foot-4.
  • Weight: 324 pounds.

What did he do at Utah?

One of the most consistent linemen for Utah over the last two years, Bills earned Pac-12 All-Conference honorable mention honors in each of the last two seasons and he graded out as Utah’s top offensive lineman last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Like wide receiver Devaughn Vele, Bills is one of the older prospects in the draft class due to serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prior to arriving at Utah.

Bills played in three and four games, respectively, in his first two seasons. Then in 2021, he played in 12 games, starting eight at left guard, including the Pac-12 championship game win over Oregon.

He was the full-time starter at left guard in each of the last two seasons.

Bills initially entered the program as a defensive lineman but accepted the switch over to offensive line.

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“Initially was a little bit leery of moving to offensive line, but he trusted what we saw in him or what I saw in him to come over and transition to our side of the ball and each and every year he continued to get better,” offensive line coach Jim Harding said.

BIlls’ natural strength and work ethic in the weight room made him a great candidate to move over to the offensive line, and combined with his knowledge and durability, he turned out to have a good career for Utah.

While hard to pick out any one standout moment from Bills’ career due to his consistency, the one that came to mind for Harding was in the 2022 Pac-12 championship game.

Utah was down 17-3 to USC, and as the Utes were driving, Micah Bernard fumbled the ball. Bills hustled to it and recovered the fumble, and Utah scored a touchdown on the drive to make it 17-10.

That would be the start of 24 unanswered points for the Utes as they defeated the Trojans 47-24.

“By hustling downfield, he recovered that fumble, we kept the ball, scored a touchdown that possession and … really, completely flipped the game,” Harding said.

Harding sees an NFL future for Bills, powered by his strength and his football IQ.

“He’s not going to get overpowered. He’s got really good natural strength. Him being a student of the game, having a high football IQ, I think he’s going to be able to come in and wherever he ends up and learn their offensive scheme quicker than a lot of newcomers,” Harding said.

“And I think that’s going to give him an opportunity to hopefully make a living in a sport that he loves, but I do feel that he’ll transition well to the next level.”

What were his NFL combine numbers?

  • Hand size: 10 inches.
  • Arm length: 32 1/2 inches.
  • Wingspan: 79 1/2 inches.
  • 40-yard dash: 5.38 seconds.
  • Vertical: 29 1/2 inches.
  • Broad jump: 8 feet, 5 inches.
  • Shuttle: 4.9 seconds
  • Three-cone: 7.95 seconds
  • Bench press: 24 reps

What’s his scouting report?

“Three-year starting guard who wears a low-cut frame that features more than enough power in both his upper and lower halves. Bills is well-schooled as an in-line blocker and on double-teams and has the play strength to win single blocks. He’s a little loose getting out of his stance and into blocks, which diminishes early phase success, but he has the contact balance to play through it. Pass protection technique is solid despite a need to drop his punch aim, but he might not play with enough lateral quickness to keep athletic rushers out of the pocket. Bills has solid backup talent and could find starting reps at some point.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

“Overall, Bills is a subpar athlete and won’t stand out with his movement skills, but he works well enough in short areas with the heavy hands and toughness to wear down defenders. Although his ceiling might not be very high in the NFL, he offers a functional skill set that can provide immediate interior depth.” — Dane Brugler, The Athletic

Where’s he projected to be drafted?

Dane Brugler of The Athletic ranked Bills as the 20th best offensive guard of the 2024 draft class with a projection of the sixth to seventh round, while Lance Zierlein projects Bills in the sixth round.

Scouts Inc. ranks him as the 225th-best prospect in the draft, correlating to a late-round selection.

Utah offensive lineman Keaton Bills (51) in action against Arizona State, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Tempe, Ariz. | Rick Scuteri, Associated Press