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Film Room: Dax Hill is the answer

Hill has everything the Bengals are looking for in a safety

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

With the Cincinnati Bengals using the franchise tag on Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell entering the final year of his contract, the future of the safety position was a big question heading into the 2022 NFL Draft.

That’s why, despite having only six picks, the Bengals took two safeties. In Round 1 they got a player who was not expected to be available. Michigan Wolverines safety Daxton Hill had both the film and the testing to make him a top prospect.

On top of that, his versatility makes him a perfect fit for Lou Anarumo’s shapeless defense. The Bengals picked at the bottom of the 1st Round, but still came away with a top-20 player.

Let’s take a look at Hill brings to Cincinnati.

Hill is #30, the second player in blue from the bottom of the screen.

Hill does a phenomenal job in man coverage.

Here he is challenged by a vertical route up the seam, but he is all over it. Hill starts off loose on the receiver. As the receiver gets even with him, Hill brings his outside hand around. This helps him to quickly flip his hips and run stride-for-stride just outside the receiver. He maintains outside leverage because he knows he has inside help from the safety.

The receiver eventually turns to the sideline, once again Hill makes a smooth transition and is all over him. As Hill sees the ball thrown to the outside receiver, he breaks at the right pursuit angle. The tackle was made immediately after the catch, but if it wasn’t Hill would have been right where he needed to be to make the play.

Hill is #30, he is at the top of the screen in blue.

Hill is in loose man coverage again in this clip. He does a great job of reading the receiver’s route, and when it breaks inside, Hill breaks too. Hill’s angle takes him to the down-field shoulder. This allows him to cover the slant, but also creates a natural collision if the receiver suddenly takes his route vertical. As the ball comes, Hill is able to get a hand on it and knock it down.

This was an excellent stop on 3rd Down.

Hill is #30, the second player in white from the bottom of the screen.

This was an excellent play by Hill, made even better by the fact that it occurred on 4th Down on the potential game-winning drive.

Hill is responsible for the slot receiver, who runs a fade. The outside receiver releases inside, creating a potential pick. Hill manages to sneak between that receiver and the cornerback. He finds the slot and instantly gets on his hip, leaning on the route he forces the receiver towards the sideline. When the ball comes, Hill is right where he needs to be to knock it down. In fact, because he leaned on the route, he is right where the quarterback expects the receiver to be.

This was a fantastic play in a clutch situation.

Hill is #30 in white, lined up over the tight end on the right side of the screen.

The tight end releases inside and runs vertical. He’s wide open. Hill looks like he’s in trouble, but he shows a great burst of speed getting under the route. He deflects the pass, sending it up in the air as he simultaneously falls to the ground. But the play isn’t over yet. Hill remains focused on the ball and makes the interception from the ground.

This is the type of big splash play that the Bengals need to see out of their defense.

Hill is #30, the second player in white from the bottom of the screen.

He also showcases his acceleration as a blitzer. In this clip, he comes all the way from the slot and manages to get there for the sack.

Hill is #30, the second player in white from the bottom of the screen.

In this clip, he isn’t able to get the sack, but he still makes the play. Hill sees the quarterback starting to throw and reacts, swatting the ball down.

Hill is #30, the second player in blue from the bottom of the screen.

A lot is made of his coverage ability, and rightfully so, but Hill will be an asset in run defense as well.

The receiver blocks Hill on this play. Hill is responsible for making sure the ball carrier stays inside, so he disengages to the outside of the blocker. This forces the ball carrier to cut back inside. Hill attacks on his hip and gets involved in the tackle.

This is not a flashy play, but one where Hill did exactly what he was supposed to do.

Hill is an excellent player and an incredible fit for the Bengals. He shines in man coverage, which is something the Bengals have lacked at the safety position. The Bengals value versatility, and Hill is a player they can move all over the secondary. He has the speed to play in the slot and the strength to play in the box. Hill has some experience in the deep field zone, but that will be where he needs to develop the most, so he can step into a starting safety role in the near future. He has the tools to do it, both physically and mentally. All he needs is more practice in this role.