CINCINNATI — First things first, call him Dax. The Cincinnati Bengals' first round draft pick said he can't remember the last time anyone close to him actually called him Daxton Hill.
Hill, a safety out of Michigan, was selected 31st overall Thursday night. While might have been picked at the end of the first round, the Oklahoma native said he didn't plan a draft party for Friday, praying he'd go before midnight.
"I was trying to save myself the embarrassment telling people that they’d have to come back," Hill said. "I was hoping in the 30s someone would call me."
While head coach Zac Taylor said he was delighted to see Hill available when the Bengals were on the clock, the pick might have come as a surprise to fans looking for a cornerback.
His addition makes for a crowded safety room with Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates, but Bengals coaches spoke at length about Hill's versatility — something he commented on Friday as well.
"I don’t want to limit myself for sure," Hill said. "I know I can play a lot of different roles. I feel like that’s one of my biggest assets."
Hill said he finds inspiration in Jamal Adams, Tyrann Mathieu and Jalen Ramsey — the latter an All-Pro cornerback.
"I look out for the best interest in the team," Hill said. "I’m not selfish — not that type of person. I know coming to the NFL it’s all bout winning, and being team-oriented. I think that’s who I am as a person.”
Though he's now in the NFL, Hill spoke about his first love: basketball. Hill said if someone would have asked him 10 years ago, he'd guess he was going pro in basketball — not football. He'll wear Michael Jordan's No. 23 with the Bengals.
Hill said he's also been playing the viola and trumpet longer than he's been playing football. For now, he's setting the instruments down and getting ready for his rookie year.
"Making sure my body is ready for the hardships of coming in as a rookie — staying in shape," Hill said. "Really relaxing as well, I know that’s something I have to do as well."
While he didn't grow up in the Tri-State, he definitely watched the Bengals' Super Bowl run. Now, Hill's ready to continue to the success.
"Excited to be a part of (the team)," Hill said. "Excited for the opportunity to expound on that (success), and hopefully make another run for the Super Bowl.”
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Cincinnati Bengals draft Michigan safety Daxton Hill in first round of NFL Draft