There's no debate as to who the Bengals' top four corners will be for the 2015 season.
As long as Adam Jones, Darqueze Dennard, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Leon Hall are healthy, they'll occupy the majority of the cornerback snaps. After that though, several players are vying for playing time, and Cincinnati's preseason opener saw Troy Hill and Josh Shaw make strong cases for roles in the defense.
The guys at Pro Football Focus loved what they from Hill and Shaw Friday night, grading them as two of the five best players in the game (Hill 2nd, Shaw tied for 5th) if you include Giants players as well. On the Bengals, Hill was the highest graded player and topped the rest of the defense by more than a full point.
The Bengals may have themselves a future player in undrafted Rookie CB Troy Hill. He allowed three catches on seven targets for 27 yards.
-Along side Troy Hill, Rookie Joshua Shaw played 31 snaps in coverage and only allowed 12 yards on those snaps.
-Neither backup QB, Joshua Johnson or Keith Wenning, showed much in the passing game. Johnson, though recorded the highest run grade for the Bengals.
Top 5 graded players:
Troy Hill (+3.3)
Greg Little (+3.0)
Josh Shaw (+1.9)
Chris Lewis-Harris (+1.8)
Tyler Eifert (+1.5)
This was exactly the kind of game Hill needed to have to put himself in a position to make the final 53-man roster. Assuming the team keeps fourth-rounder Josh Shaw, that leaves five cornerback spots locked up. As you can see in the above grades, Chris Lewis-Harris isn't about to give up his No. 6 spot up without a fight.
That said, Lewis-Harris is more expendable with him being on the final year of his contract, whereas Hill has three years and a restricted free agent year left on his. If the two play close to the same level, Hill should be the man for the sixth corner spot if the Bengals keep that many.
As will be expected of him, Hill is already showing he's a capable tackler on special teams:
Even on the few plays Hill was beat, he put himself in position to make the play:
Hill's best play of the night came on a key deflection in the fourth quarter to prevent a touchdown:
Hill will be one of the most interesting players to watch for the rest of the preseason. At this rate, another team will almost certainly claim him if he's waived during final cuts. When you have as deep of a roster as the Bengals, talented players like Hill are sometimes unfortunate casualties.