Alex Erickson and Darius Hillary are two of the more intriguing undrafted players the Bengals signed following the 2016 NFL Draft. Both players hail from University of Wisconsin and Hillary is gaining much attention due to his father being Ira Hillary, a wide receiver spent three years with the Bengals from 1987 to 1989. We spoke with Owen Riese of Bucky's 5th Quarter, SB Nation's Wisconsin Badgers site to get a breakdown on what Bengals fans should know about the two former Badgers.
Cincy Jungle: Did you expect either Darius Hillary or Alex Erickson to be drafted?
Owen Riese: Not really. Both guys performed well at the Badger Pro Day, so there was always the outside possibility, but both were likely headed for UDFA territory. Erickson maybe had a better opportunity to get drafted, as he was voted first team All-Big Ten and met extensively with the Browns and Dolphins after the Pro Day, but both were long shots.
CJ: What are Hillary's strengths/weaknesses?
Darius is a fluid athlete who's an opportunistic playmaker. He didn't record an interception over the past two seasons for the Badgers, but he had multiple fumble recoveries. He's solid in coverage, as he often doesn't get beat physically, rather it's usually mentally when he loses. He's got decent size, but he's not a very physical player and doesn't tackle extremely well. However, he was rarely a liability on the Badgers' very impressive defensive units over the past two seasons.
CJ: How about strengths/weaknesses for Erickson?
Erickson, a former high school quarterback, walked onto the Badgers football team after attending school for a semester. He's very sure handed, and quickly became a favorite target of Joel Stave. He's a precise route runner, taking after the walk-on standard set before him by Jared Abbrederis. While he's not overly explosive, he usually finds a way to get open. He was snubbed by the postseason All-star circuit, even after being a first team All-Big Ten selection a year ago. His return ability should help him stick.
CJ: What do you think Bengals fans would like to know about Hillary?
He was a two-year starter for the Badgers after coming out of high school in Cincinnati. His dad played for the Bengals, and while he has his shortcomings, he was a vital part of defenses that were top five in the nation in multiple categories the past two seasons. He also has special teams experience.
CJ: What would they most like to know about Erickson?
They're getting a guy who has been under the radar and under appreciated throughout his high school and collegiate career. He has great hands, can do some damage after the catch, and can be a solid returner. He's not going to wow you in many capacities, but he's rock solid. He'll be tough to get rid of.
CJ: Did either have any injury issues or red flags during their college years?
Neither player has had any significant injuries or missed games over the past two seasons. They're very reliable in that department, and especially Erickson, is built pretty sturdily for a guy of his frame. He should be fine moving forward transitioning to the physicality of the NFL. Hillary is a bit more slight, but hasn't shown any issues thus far.