Michigan’s defense has been on fire early in 2021; part of that is due to the fantastic play of Daxton Hill. Daxton Hill is an intriguing safety coming out in this year’s NFL draft. For one, he may be the most athletic safety we have seen in a draft class for a while. He logged a 4.3 40-yard dash and a 43 inch vertical during his recruiting camps. Additionally, he has proven he is highly versatile. Under Don Brown’s new defensive scheme, he has lined up at free safety, strong safety, nickel, and the will linebacker. Many scouts have already regarded him as an early-round pick with tons of potential. However, Hill still needs to work on some areas of his game. You can see other scouting reports by the Sports Wave here.
Weight: 192 lbs
To completely understand Daxton Hill’s ability to play in the game, we need to understand his strengths and weaknesses. As mentioned previously, Hill’s biggest strength is his athleticism. From sideline to sideline, he plays at 100%. His explosiveness is unparalleled among college safeties as he can make the most brutal pursuit tackles and quickest decisions on balls in the air. Furthermore, his swift, athletic burst allows him to produce exceptional tackles one-on-one. In coverage, his fluid and smooth athletic length create no separation for opposing receivers. Simply put, it is tough to find another safety with the versatility and athleticism that Daxton Hill possesses.
Despite Daxton Hill’s athletic ability, he still has areas to improve to become an elite safety. Firstly, he needs to improve his ability to read the quarterback. Unfortunately, he can be indecisive in coverage, leading to missed opportunities. Furthermore, he needs to improve his spacing within a zone coverage. Too often, he will completely lose track of receivers from a lack of recognition. Moreover, he needs to have better recognition during misdirection plays. Hill has a bad habit of getting baited into bad situations. However, that was early in his career and has improved much since his freshman and sophomore seasons. Overall, to truly prove his worth as an early-round prospect, Hill needs to refine his mental ability to recognize and read offenses more intuitively.
Film Against Michigan
As mentioned in previous scouting reports, the full-game film does not release until the end of the college season. However, there are still some interesting points to note about Daxton Hill’s game against Rutgers. Due to Rutgers’ natural passion for running the ball, Michigan stacked the box during most plays. Especially in the first half, Michigan left secondary personal in man coverage and on an island. Thus, Hill was inserted as a slot corner for most of the game and still played high. In this play (#30), we can see Hill easily recognize the slant in front of him and breaks on the ball, which forces the QB to throw outside. However, Hill still showed some flaws as well. Here he loses contain as the will linebacker and angles himself terribly, leading to a first down. Despite some bad moments, Hill continued to prove his athletic ability against Rutgers.
Film Against Washington
Daxton Hill continued to prove his value against the quality Washington receivers. Hill leaves no separation between his opposing receiver and trails perfectly from his slot-corner position from the start of the game. However, he shows some of his weaknesses during the next drive. He bites hard on the run-fake in this play, leading to an easy pass in his zone. However, he again proved how fast and athletic he is by quickly coming back and making the tackle. During Washington’s final offensive drive of the third quarter, Hill shows his versatility by blanketing Washington’s best receiver, leading to an incomplete pass on third down. Again, Daxton Hill showed his ability to play man coverage exceptionally well against Washington. Nonetheless, he needs to show he can play just as fantastic in zone coverage.
Daxton Hill shows that he is an athletic specimen with a tremendous amount of burst and footwork. However, his mental game needs to improve. The poor tackling angles, inadequate zone coverage reads, and flawed recognition will not pass in the NFL. However, I fully expect him to improve those areas and become a legitimate starting safety or even a slot cornerback.