Bengals’ Dax Hill ‘comfortable’ in transtion to cornerback from safety

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Dax Hill said his first practices at cornerback were a little difficult as the Cincinnati Bengals began his transition from safety, but he is confident he put some good things on film over the past few weeks.

After Hill failed to lock down the free safety position in 17 starts last year, the Bengals made the decision this offseason to tap into his versatility and try him at cornerback. He ran with the first-team defense at outside cornerback last week in mandatory minicamp, bumping for the time being second-year player DJ Turner out of the spot he played through much of 2023.

The starting job won’t be settled until training camp, but Hill said he’s starting to feel more comfortable in that role after six weeks of on-field practices, including the last three with team drills. Thursday marked the final session of the offseason workout program, and the Bengals are now on break until training camp begins July 24.

“It’s been good,” Hill said. “I feel like obviously it was a transition, one I’m going to have to make but I feel comfortable. I trust the coaches. They’ve been preparing me well. Right now, just with OTAs, there’s only certain things we can do right now, but they’ve been getting me prepared.”

Hill came in as a safety but played most of his snaps at slot corner during his college career as a three-year starter at Michigan. He had a little experience at outside corner, but according to, that was just 35 snaps.

The Bengals liked his versatility coming in as the No. 31 overall draft pick in 2022, but it was clear all along the plan for him was to replace Jessie Bates. When that didn’t go well last year, a move to slot corner wasn’t an option with Mike Hilton returning, so instead, he appears to be battling with Turner for the other outside corner spot opposite Cam Taylor-Britt.

Hill said the adjustment hasn’t been as easy as some might have assumed just based on the understanding he had some experience there previously.

“To be honest, a lot of people think I played corner before, but I haven’t played too much, so I really have to start from square one and take it a day at a time,” Hill said. “Right now I feel like it’s been good. First day it was just a little bit different. Now I feel a little bit better in my techniques and certain things like that.”

Asked why outside corner is a good fit for him, Hill said he has the talent to do it but credited his coaches for preparing him well. The more film he watches, the more the game slows down for him, and the easier he is able make corrections.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor has noticed improvements this spring.

“I hate to speak for him, but he certainly looks very comfortable playing out there at corner and I think (cornerbacks coach) Chuck (Burks) has done a really good job of getting him ready and helping him compete,” Taylor said. “I think that’s a really good room right now from a competition standpoint, and Dax certainly has continued to make improvements over the course of the spring and put himself in a position that we feel really good about.”

The defense looked to be the winners of 7-on-7s this offseason, and Hill was among those making plays while lining up with the starters. He said seeing the others stepping up and “flying around” helped give him some added energy to perform as well.

Hill is trying not to think about the competition with his teammate for the starting job, though.

“I’m just playing my game,” Hill said. “I always tell myself I’m in a competition with myself. I’m my greatest critic. Whenever I watch film, I’m always trying to figure out ways to be the best version of myself and that’s how I’m taking it right now. That’s my perspective, and I feel like everyone in this secondary is very talented and can play, but I feel like trying to compare yourself or compete with other people, that’s going to put more pressure on me, so I just look within myself and say, ‘This is what I can do,’ and I’m just going to do that.”

With Hill’s speed and athleticism, it shouldn’t be a surprise the Bengals are giving him an opportunity to compete for a starting role at another position. Cincinnati drafted cornerbacks in the second round in 2022 (Taylor-Britt) and 2023 (Turner), but Turner struggled in the second half of his rookie season and wasn’t a lock to retain his job.

Hill just wants to play wherever the coaches think he has the best chance to help the team.

“Definitely coming in, I could do whatever they wanted me to, but it’s third year, different position and you never knew where it was going to go,” he said. “Now I feel like it was probably meant to be all along, but I’m just playing my role right now and competing with myself.”

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