Former Michigan safety Daxton Hill is now playing for a team that just appeared in a Super Bowl — the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hill was selected at the tail end of the first round, the Bengals selected him with the No. 31 pick. The Bengals didn’t expect Hill to still be on the board.
“He was a player that we thought very highly of and were surprised he was there for us,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. “We’re really eager to add him to our team. We think he will be a great weapon for us on defense, and we can use him in a lot of different ways. We’re really, really fired up to get him in the building.”
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper was just as surprised as Taylor, who felt Hill should have been drafted much sooner in the first round.
“Great player. I was shocked he was still there. The No. 1 safety coming out of high school. Flies to the football. Really good football IQ,” Kiper said. “He will come in and be an immediate impact performer, a guy who can get after the quarterback. He tackles well in space, he’s aggressive, he’s got ball skills. I don’t know what the kid’s lacking. I thought he was one of the best 13, 14 players in this draft. Versatility, he’s perfect for the way the game’s played today in the National Football League. Daxton Hill, to me, one of the steals in the draft so far. Daxton Hill should’ve gone maybe 10-15 picks earlier.”
Hill was used all over the field at Michigan and there’s no doubt his versatility will serve him well as a pro. The 6-foot, 192 pound safety made 23 starts in his career at Michigan, with 69 tackles (42 solo) in 2021 along 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said they’ve used a bunch of three-safety packages in the past and he’s looking forward to doing a variety of things with Hill.
“It’s not just picking balls off. This guy, he can blitz, he can cause sack-fumbles and all those different things,” Anarumo said. “He brings a wide variety of skills that we think can help in that area for sure.”
The Bengals play in the AFC North, a division that has two of the fastest quarterbacks in the league — Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens) and Deshaun Watson (Cleveland Browns). The Bengals love Hill’s coverage skills, but they know his speed can come in handy blitzing and getting after Jackson, Watson, and other quarterbacks.
Daxton Hill absolutely CRUSHED Graham Mertz pic.twitter.com/XBqnoEhLcx— Boom or Bust: The Draft Show (@BoomOrBustDraft) October 2, 2021
“We’re going to chase around two of the toughest quarterbacks in the league this year four times. The more speed we have on the field, the better we’ll be. So he lends that,” Anarumo said.
Hill has a great opportunity in front of him and is thrust into a situation where he can win himself a Super Bowl.
“It’s a blessing. It’s ironic how we could’ve won the Super Bowl last year, but my upside can be important to the team,” Hill said. “And I feel like me coming in day one can definitely show that I can do great things for the defense and for the team.”
Being quarterback Joe Burrow’s teammate is bound to lead to some serious hardware one of these days.