Michigan safety Dax Hill’s time in Ann Arbor was difficult to quantify over his first two seasons. The defense had worsened both years (2019 and 2020) and while his talent was evident, his rawness and lack of development was troubling to NFL scouts.
The 2021 season changed everything for Hill, who posted career highs in tackles (69), tackles-for-loss (4.5), sacks (0.5), interceptions (2), and pass deflections (8), for one of the most improved defenses in the country.
Hill further strengthened his draft positioning at the NFL Combine by posting a 4.38 40-yard dash, 33.5 vertical jump, and a positional best —and second fastest among all players who participated — 6.57 3-cone drill.
Most NFL mock drafts have Hill graded as the second-best safety in the 2022 class, only behind Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton. With a late first/ early second round grade in most projections, let’s take a look at three of the best fits in that range for Dax Hill.
Most likely Draft Position - No. 32 Detroit Lions
At the NFL Combine, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell spoke about the defense becoming more multiple in their base sets and alternating between three and four-man fronts. A versatile weapon like Hill to help solidify the back end would allow for more variance and experimentation in the box.
The Lions resigned safety Tracy Walker in the off-season and by adding a play-maker like Hill would go a long way in bolstering the No. 24 ranked pass defense who has to face the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and an emerging Justin Fields every year.
Hill is a chess piece that can be deployed in the slot and also possesses the range to play single-high looks if called upon. For a Detroit team full of holes, Hill is the most bang-for-your buck player at this point in the draft.
Highest Draft Position - No. 24 Dallas Cowboys
While the meteoric ascension of first-team All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs was an unexpected jolt during Dan Quinn’s first year as defensive coordinator, don’t be surprised if the Cowboys add another piece to their secondary.
Last year, Diggs posted an NFL-high 11 interceptions, but their No. 20 ranked pass defense was bottom-five in the NFL against the deep ball. Dallas’s current safety depth leaves much to be desired especially when playing with a feast or famine corner like Diggs.
In 2021, the Cowboys drafted Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons who went on to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and was named first-team All-Pro. Parsons is a Swiss army knife in the box and on the line of scrimmage, and Hill could bring that type of versatility to their secondary. Moreover, the addition of Dax Hill would give the Cowboys one of the fastest sideline-to-sideline defenses in the NFL.
While the Cowboys could target Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean here or an offensive linemen, the allure of Hill’s positional malleability will be enticing for a coordinator like Quinn whom once worked with Seattle’s legendary ‘Legion of Boom.’
Speaking of Seattle...
Lowest Draft Position - No. 41 Seattle Seahawks
For a team in the midst a full-fledged rebuild, the Seattle Seahawks’ draft strategy is simple: always draft the best player available.
If Dax Hill falls to pick No. 41, he will be the best player available. Seattle possesses back-to-back picks at 40 and 41 after they acquired additional draft capital from the Russell Wilson-to-Denver trade.
Seattle was one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL by any quantifiable metric last year. And given that former All-Pro safety Jamal Adams — when healthy — plays primarily close to the line of scrimmage, Hill would be the ideal pairing alongside Adams.
Other teams to watch: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pick No. 27, Jacksonville Jaguars Pick No. 33, Houston Texans Pick No. 37