When the Cincinnati Bengals went with a defensive back with the 31st overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, many questions began to fly.
Does this mean Jessie Bates III time is coming to an end amid a contract dispute? Is Lou Anarumo just looking for another chess piece in the defensive backfield?
The answer, truthfully, is that Daxton Hill is the “yes” answer to both of those questions.
Sure, the team wants Bates to remain in Cincinnati, but those discussions now can’t happen until next offseason, and he’s currently set to skip all of training camp and most, if not the entire preseason.
In other words, retaining Bates is far from a given, and it’s starting to look unlikely, which makes Hill even more important to the future of this secondary.
- Position: Defensive Back
- Height: 6-0
- Weight: 192lb
- Born: September 29, 2000 in Tulsa, OK
- College: Michigan
Hill is entering the first year of his four-year rookie contract and will have a cap number of $2,121,276 for 2022.
Hill was a top recruit in the class of 2019, with offers from man Power Five programs. After initially committing to The University of Michigan, Hill switched his verbal commitment to Alabama before switching back and signing with the Wolverines.
As a true freshman, Hill played in 13 games, starting three. In his freshman season, Hill recorded 36 tackles and one interception. His sophomore season, he started six games in the covid-shortened season, recording 46 tackles and one interception.
2021 was the season where Hill became an unquestioned starter and leader on the Michigan defense. Hill showed his versatility, playing all over the defensive backfield. That versatility was a big reason why the Bengals were so high on him prior to the draft and surprised when he was still on the board when they picked at the tail end of the first round.
Effectively playing free safety, strong safety, slot corner and boundary corner made Hill a very intriguing prospect and one that fits the mold of Anarumo’s creativity with defensive backs.
Outlook for 2022
How Hill will be used in 2022 remains to be seen. Bates will not report to training camp due to displeasure with playing on the franchise tag, and some think the holdout could last into the regular season.
Because of this, Hill is getting a lot of first-team reps in camp, which will prove to be extremely valuable if Bates isn’t on the field Week 1.
If Bates does report for the regular season, we should still see Hill on the field quite a bit. The Bengals like to run a defense with a heavy dose of backs on the field, only using two linebackers. Anarumo will mix up looks and use defensive backs in different ways.
We saw Tre Flowers come in to games to cover more athletic tight ends while Vonn Bell played man snaps in the box, rather than a true safety position. Last season, safeties were pulled to the line of scrimmage to blitz, essentially as free rushers.
Everything mentioned above, Hill has done in college and done all of them well. Bates or no Bates, be ready to see Hill on the field early and often.
Roster Odds: 100%