Bengals 2022 Training Camp: Rookie Daxton Hill is turning heads

Cincinnati Bengals safety Daxton Hill - Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY NETWORK
Cincinnati Bengals safety Daxton Hill - Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY NETWORK /

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Daxton Hill with their first-round pick and the rookie is showing up big time in training camp. 

Throughout mini camp and with training camp starting up, first-round pick Daxton Hill has a prime opportunity to show the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff and the team what he is capable of.

Of course, as a rookie, there will be hiccups and bumps in the road because the transition from college to the NFL is very different. However, so far, Hill has positively turned heads.

Jessie Bates’ decision to continue to hold out and not report to camp had given Hill the chance to step into a more prominent role with a secondary filled with depth. As a result, Hill has been taking reps with the first team alongside other vital defensive backs, Mike Hilton, Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, and Vonn Bell.

This is a huge plus even if Bates does return by Week 1 and steps back into the starting role. This will give Hill some much-needed reps with other teammates who will often be on the field with high usage rates. Regardless if it’s Bates and Bell as the starting tandem, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will still find ways to implement Hill into the defensive schemes that the Cincinnati Bengals will use.

Bengals rookie Daxton Hill is impressing so far

Hill is a very diverse safety with many capabilities besides just being a natural at the position in coverage. He can play in the box, line up around the edge, and is a knowledgeable athlete who can make plays in the backfield and along the line of scrimmage. His upside is very high, and training camp is just getting started.

It’s not just him either — Second round pick Cam Taylor-Britt has also been raved about and has shown the type of pure athlete he is. However, it still seems that Eli Apple is leading the way as the starting CB two by the sound of Anarumo.

Nonetheless, Hearing that Hill has adjusted very well to the NFL style so far is an excellent sign and should give Bengals fans a lot of relief. Maybe he won’t be at Jessie Bates’ level right away but knowing that he is headed in the right direction is the only thing you can ask for as a rookie.

It is expected that Hill will see a lot of playing time during the preseason just in case Bates decides to hold out into the season. In that case, Hill would have to step into a starting role as a safety immediately. There isn’t much competition behind him that could surpass him unless other safety draft pick Tycen Anderson does something unprecedented.

There is always the chance that the Bengals make a move in the free agent market with guys that remain there, and with some talent being left like Landon Collins and a few others, there’s always that possibility, but it is improbable. So instead, the Bengals seem like they want their current cap space to roll over into the following off-season when guys like Burrow, Higgins, and Wilson become eligible for contract extensions.

It seems like the selection of Hill was to draft Bates’ future replacement, and that seems like a plausible idea. Still, regardless, the Bengals want Jessie to play football for the team this year, and if he comes back, he will see his usage rate stay very similar to the last couple of years. Hill will be second to him and Bell but having that extra depth and talent gives the defense a lot more flexibility which is a perfect thing to have.

Hill will likely find himself in constant AFC North debates with Baltimore Ravens’ first-round pick Kyle Hamilton, who is also a safety and was selected higher than Hill. Both are fantastic players who should have long careers in the NFL.

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It will be interesting to see which player has a more successful rookie season considering both the Ravens and the Bengals have fantastic and complete secondaries.