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Do the Bengals Have Another Undrafted Free Agent Gem?

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Oct 11, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oct 11, 2014; Oregon Ducks defensive back Troy Hill (13) tackles UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) during the fourth quarter at the Rose Bowl. The Ducks won 42-30. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

CB Troy Hill, Oregon

The Bengals are the type of team who believes one can never have enough capable defenders in the secondary.  Due to this approach to defense, Cincinnati invested in two players during the draft to fill-out their secondary: DB Josh Shaw from USC and S Derron Smith from Fresno State.  One would think two players would be enough for a team with four capable corners and three talented safeties, but not the Bengals.  Cincinnati went ahead and signed Oregon’s Troy Hill following this year’s draft.

Hill is a smooth athlete and talented athlete who spent much of his collegiate career as a reserve defensive back for the Ducks.  He finally got his shot to start during his senior season and he didn’t disappoint.

Hill played opposite of the highly talented Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.  This meant that teams were often more willing to target Hill’s man rather than challenge his more acclaimed counterpart.  Hill seemed to accept the challenge and finished his year with 19 passes defended (according to his draft profile) on his way to earning Second-Team All-PAC 12 honors in 2014.

Being challenged this often could present a problem for a player, but Hill seemed to hold up well according to Pro Football Focus who labeled Hill as one of their “10 Defensive UDFA’s to Like.”

"“With the way this cornerback class was bunched together, both myself and Sam Monson actually saw Hill as one of the five best available. Our sixth-highest graded player at the position, Hill allowed just 435 yards and a quarterback rating of 63.9 on passes thrown into his coverage. His 11 pass breakups were tied for second in the class, and he added an interception for good measure.”"

Being considered one of the cornerback class’ five best is pretty impressive.  If this billing stands true, then it’s even more impressive that Cincinnati was able to score such a player in the time following the draft.

Given the Bengals are currently pretty loaded in the secondary, if Hill proves worthy of a roster spot I can’t imagine the Bengals will have trouble finding him one.  Prior to starting for Oregon, Hill played on special teams and offers experience both in coverage and as a returner.  This type of prowess for the game’s largely forgotten unit will intrigue the Bengals, as it should any team.  It’s vital for a reserve player to be proficient on special teams.

Troy Hill does bring some character concerns with him.  According to CBS, Hill “ran with the wrong crowd growing up,” but has seemingly had only one incident since then, though it’s a concerning one as the arrest was based on domestic violence.  Hill eventually pled guilty to menacing and was sentenced to probation, community service and required to attend anger management.

The fact that Hill “improved by leaps and bounds” once becoming a starter for Oregon is a great sign of his potential to grow with tutelage and experience.  In Cincinnati, if Hill commits to football and keeping his off-the-field life on the “straight and narrow,” then he could have a shot to stick with the Bengals and offer them additional depth in the secondary.

Next: Another Option at Defensive Tackle