One of the more interesting profiles in the 2022 NFL Draft is Michigan’s safety/nickel hybrid Daxton Hill. Hill was named First-Team All-Big Ten in 2021 and features as a likely top 50 selection. Let’s dive into the tape!
Strengths: Hill is heavily used in man coverage, especially lining up in the slot, and really excels in this area of the game. He possesses the top-end fluidity and quickness needed to transition out of press coverage and mirror receivers, rarely giving up any separation. Even when he does give up a step of separation, his burst allows him to recover. Hill is physical in coverage, disrupting the receiver’s route, even against bigger targets. He is really disciplined too, staying composed and not biting on fakes or misdirections. Hill also excels in zone coverage, showing a really good understanding of his assignment. He reads the quarterback well, breaking on the throw to make a play on the ball when possible. In these situations, he showcases good ball skills to elevate and come down with the football. Hill is extremely willing against the run and does not hesitate to stick his nose into traffic. He does well to find the running back in the hole and is a hard hitter, meeting the ball carrier with force. Hill’s intelligence and burst allow him to diagnose plays instantly and make plays in the backfield. His speed offers him great range to make plays sideline to sideline, as he truly flies around the field all game. He does well to avoid blocks when possible, but will also take them on fearlessly and has some ability to disengage, even against bigger opponents. In all phases of the game, Hill is a feisty, tough competitor. His burst and aggressiveness make him valuable as a free blitzer. Hill is really versatile, capable of lining up in the slot, in the box, or deep.
Weaknesses: Hill lacks size, both in terms of height and bulk. While he excelled at covering both running backs and tight ends in college, the size disadvantage he gives up to tight ends might be exploited to a greater degree in the NFL, where bigger targets could go up and get it against him more consistently. As a result, Hill’s excellent man-coverage ability should translate against running backs but it is unclear if he will prove to be just as good against tight ends in the NFL. Hill’s lack of size can also result in him getting glued onto blocks against bigger opponents at times. It remains to be seen if Hill can add bulk, and if doing so would sacrifice any athleticism.
Bottom Line: Hill is a terrific safety and nickel prospect who will thrive in the NFL. He is incredibly skilled in man coverage with tremendous athleticism, physicality, and discipline, while also excelling in zone coverage. He is great against the run too, with top-notch closing burst, speed, play diagnosis, and effort. Hill’s lack of size does limit him and may keep him from being able to match up effectively against much bigger tight ends in the NFL. That being said, his man-coverage value against running backs is immense in an age where running backs are used increasingly more as receivers. In all phases of the game, Hill is a really athletic, smart, tough competitor and he will instantly make an NFL defense much better.
- Cover Image: https://www.mlive.com/wolverines/2021/12/jim-harbaugh-well-know-more-today-on-michigan-safety-daxton-hill.html