ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 25: Defensive back Daxton Hill #30 of the Michigan Wolverines turns to try and sack quarterback Noah Vedral #0 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second quarter at Michigan Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

By Dylan MacKinnon

Wouldn’t it be nice for the Eagles to have a do it all Safety again? They had it for over a decade with Brian Dawkins. Then to a lesser extent, they had it with Malcolm Jenkins. But between  Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris last year, they lacked it. Not to say those guys were bad, but they were not impacting the game to the same extent BDawk did, or even Jenkins did. But could Daxton Hill fill that role for the Eagles? We already talked about one safety who could do so in this draft in Jaquan Brisker, but now let’s look at Hill.

A Swiss Army Knife

If I had to describe Daxton Hill in one phrase, I would say swiss army knife. Do you need him to drop back in coverage? He can do so at a high level. Need someone to step up into the box? He has the speed, size, and strength to do that at a high level too. He can play man to man and zone. Anything you need a safety to do, he can do, and quite well. He seemingly has every tool you want an NFL Safety to have and has the know-how to use those tools well.

What makes him so versatile? Well for one he is an exceptional athlete. He ran a 4.38 40 at the Combine, the 14th fastest time overall. And if your turn on the tape, you will see his game speed matches his Combine performance. And it wasn’t just his speed that stood out. Overall, few people impressed as much as he did at the combine.

“It’s funny. Some guys are just always around the ball no matter if they know what they’re doing or not. He was one of those guys. ‘Oh, the ball is over there and there’s Daxton.’ Even when he was going through the learning curve and we were taking him through that, he was always around the ball. If you ask me what he was elite at, he was always around the ball.”- Former Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown

Michigan moved Daxton Hill all over the field. He played some nickel corner, he play some safety. Especially his senior year. In the traditional 4-3-4, he lined up as safety. But at times they used 5 defensive backs, in which case he stepped up as a corner, often in the slot. And he did so at a high level.

“He has a skillset of a corner with the ability to make plays as a safety, and the mindset of a safety. I’m really, really excited about all the plays he can make. His demeanor, his championship effort — he’s a very, very good football player. Very instinctual.”- Michigan Passing Game Coordinator Steve Clinkscale

In 3 years at Michigan, he had 4 interceptions and 15 deflected passes. And while those numbers don’t jump off the page, his potential is still untapped. He got better every year, as he got larger and larger roles. His final year Michigan relied heavily on him, and gave him a ton of responsibility. With his athleticism though, not even the sky is the limit. He can be so much better than what he was in college. And he was pretty damn good in college.

Areas to Improve

One issue for Daxton Hill can be play strength. If he could add some size to his frame it would go a long way. he is fast and explosive, but can at times be swallowed up by blockers.

He also needs to be better at reading the field and the QB. He has come a long way in this area since his freshman year, but still has room to improve even more. Hill will find himself at times recognizing something late, and having to rely on his speed to make up for it. Which to his credit, he is capable of. He can get himself into plays he was late to react to because he is so fast and explosive. But if he wasn’t late, that speed would perhaps allow him to make a play on the ball, instead of the ball carrier.

His tackling could also use some work. He is by no means a weak tackler, but compared to fellow safety prospect Jaquan brisker, his tackling lacks explosiveness. Being more aggressive and forceful in how he plays would lead to him being a more productive player. One who instead of being around every play is making every play. He has huge untapped potential that can be realized just by playing with more agressivness and confidence.

Consistently Working to Improve

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Daxton Hill is how he consistently improved every year. A trend that suggests he is capable of reaching the potential his athleticism says he should have. His coaches at Michigan praised him for continually reaching new levels every year.

“Every time you think you hit (a new level) with Dax — he finds another rung,”- Jim Harbaugh

There are things you can teach a player. For instance you can teach a player to be in the right place. You can teach them how to read an react toa  defense. And you can teach them proper coverage technique. Two things that cant be taught though, are work ethic, and speed. And those are two things Hill seems to have. His determination to learn more about his position, or positions since they utilize him in so many ways, is something that makes him very valuable.

What The Draft Experts Say

Lance Zierlein-NFL Network

“Hybrid safety/nickel with an outstanding blend of speed, explosiveness and coverage versatility. Hill is a smooth, twitchy athlete who is unencumbered in his coverage movements. He’s rangy playing over the top, has the eyes and burst to play zone, and the oily hips and length to shade bigger slots in man coverage. He can trigger quickly downhill to cut off angles in run support but his play demeanor is more run-and-cover than run-and-hit near the line. Hill has premium athletic traits, enticing coverage talent and the ability to make plays on the ball from anywhere he is aligned. He’s sure to be a coveted target for defenses trapped in pass-happy divisions.”

Dane Brugler- The Athletic

“Hill plays with the athletic twitch and transitional quickness to interchangeably play slot-man, deep safety or in the box and can just as easily lay licks in the run game as he can cover the slot fade. He displays the competitive temperament and awareness to smother in zone or man, although he can do a better job exploding through his target as a tackler or blitzer. Overall, Hill might not have elite size or length, but his versatile package of skills (athletic range, toughness, football IQ) make him the ideal nickel defender in today’s NFL. He should be a rookie starter as either a split safety or slot defender.”

Conclusion-

Daxton Hill is another safety who should fit right into what the Eagles like to do with safeties. He is a high ceiling type of prospect. The floor with him is not too low either though. Even if he stops improving, what he is right now should be a pretty decent player. Hill has the potential to be a playmaker, it just hasn’t happened yet. But either way if Eagles end up with one of either him or Brisker, it will go a long way to fixing the Eagles’ secondary.