Round 1: Pick 31 – Daxton Hill, S (Michigan)
This was a toss-up between Daxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt, but considering Hill could have gone 10 picks earlier in the first round, the value was very high for the stripes to land him at 31. Hill not only adds a great deal of depth to the Bengals’ defense, but he also adds speed that was very important for the Bengals to add to the roster this season.
Hill isn’t just an ordinary safety; he can excel out of the slot and can play in the box, which gives Lou Anarumo a lot of different ways they can use him while finding ways to keep Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, and Mike Hilton on the field at the same time.
Hill is 6’0″, 191 pounds, and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. In three years at Michigan, Daxton Hill managed to get 149 total tackles and four interceptions.
Hill, at times, got a little caught in the shadow of the other elite defensive pieces the Michigan team had, like Aiden Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Still, Hill was the centerpiece to the secondary and a crucial part in their elite display last season as debatably the best defense in the entire country outside of Georgia.
Another key thing to recognize with this pick is that the Bengals have no safties on the roster under contract through next season. Not only does this selection fit a need, but it also raises the potential question that Vonn Bell could be playing his last season with the Bengals. Cincy also may not look into signing Bates to a long-term deal, or it could simply mean none of that and they could bring Bates back and then place the franchise tag on Bell next season.
The fact of the matter is this team has a lot of players who they will need to play. That is one of the issues with being a good team with many young players who haven’t reached their peak contract levels yet. They will want money, and rightfully so.
It is well-deserved but not everyone can be signed to long-term deals. The way Cincinnati drafts, the guys they re-sign, without a doubt, will exemplify who they potentially view as those long-term pieces.
With placing the franchise tag on Bates, drafting two defensive backs with their first two picks and another later in the draft makes fans a little weary of the approach they could be taking. But, at the end of the day, nobody knows what will happen except the members of the Cincinnati front office.