The Cincinnati Bengals stuck to their board at the end of the first round of the NFL Draft. They took the best player available, and that seemed to be far and away Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill.
The traits that made Hill a first round talent included his incredible athletic profile that allows him to project at any defensive back position, and he could fill in at those areas at a very high level.
However, it could be that the Bengals landed a player who could end up looking like a real steal according to a scout from the Athletic’s Dane Brugler’s article who makes an interesting comparison:
The appeal with Hill is his versatility to play anywhere in the secondary. He can attach himself to slot receivers as a nickel, play more of a two-safety look, and he could realistically line up outside with his above-average athleticism. One scout told me that Hill will be the best defensive back out of Michigan since Charles Woodson, and it is hard to disagree.
Woodson is a name that many NFL fans are familiar with. He had an illustrious 18-year career where he played both corner and safety. He is easily one of the best defensive backs since the turn of the millennium with 65 interceptions (fifth all-time), 18 fumble recoveries and a total of 13 touchdowns. His 11 interceptions returned for touchdowns are also second all-time in NFL history. This career earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame.
No one here is putting that projection or expectations onto Hill. Especially since he hasn’t even played a down in the NFL yet. However, it is clear he has all the tools to be a playmaker in the NFL for a very long time. He also plays in a defense that will be able to put him in positions to make those plays by lining up in multiple places.
It is great to see that people who study the game see that kind of potential in Cincinnati’s first round selection. Hopefully he reaches that, and we can all watch a Hall of Fame career play out on the defensive side of the ball.