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Arrowhead Pride bolsters Chiefs’ secondary by selecting Daxton Hill at No. 30

With the second of two first-round selections in SB Nation’s annual mock draft, a versatile safety prospect is going to Kansas City.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In this year’s SB Nation NFL community mock draft, I get the honor of making two selections for Arrowhead Pride: the Kansas City Chiefs’ selections at 29 and 30. Check out how the rest of the draft went up to this point.

With the first of the two picks, I took Michigan edge defender David Ojabo. For this selection, I am drafting Michigan safety Daxton Hill.

Hill is a safety with slot cornerback abilities; some consider him more of a cornerback prospect in general. Either way, the Chiefs need help in the defensive secondary. L’Jarius Sneed and Justin Reid are the only two players signed past the 2022 season among the defensive backs.

He may not make it here in the real draft; Hill is touted as one of the best defensive back prospects in the class. Yet, he was here for me — and I chose him over wide receiver prospects and other positions that could be considered needs. Here’s why:

The player

For a great breakdown of everything about Hill, staff writer Talon Graff posted a draft profile with film evaluation just last week.

Most of Hill’s work during the 2021 season came from playing in the slot: 70% of his total snaps, to be exact. He led the team’s defensive backs in run stops because of that alignment, but he also has the versatility to defend the back end. He led the team with two interceptions, having the athletic ability to stick in man coverage from the slot — but also cover a lot of ground as a deeper safety.

By the historical percentiles, he is an undersized safety at 6’ and 191 pounds. Yet, he has a 92nd-percentile wingspan and hand size in the 63rd percentile. He also put up a very impressive 4.38-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine — which included an incredible 1.51-second 10-yard split.

While his explosive results didn’t draw excitement, his agility drills were off the charts; the 6.57-second three-cone drill is one of the fastest times I’ve ever heard of for the drill.

So while Hill played primarily from the slot, he has the athletic profile to play anywhere in the secondary — especially with the ball-hawking skills he was seldom able to show at Michigan. He had only four career interceptions, but the ones he did have were splashy plays.

Hill’s athleticism also makes him an immediate threat as a blitzer in the NFL; his quick acceleration allows him to get into the backfield more quickly than blockers expect him.

Why it makes sense for the Chiefs

Every NFL team can use more talent in their defensive secondary with the way modern passing offenses are evolving, but the Chiefs especially need the aid.

When you think about defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, you think about how much he loves to play three-safety sets on third down and mix things up to confuse the offense. Hill has the versatility to do that, not being pigeon holed into one alignment and becoming a weakness if lined up elsewhere.

The combination of Hill and Justin Reid’s ability to move around the defense could be a big asset — and when you add in Juan Thornhill to complete the trio, it could be the most well-rounded three-safety group Spagnuolo has had since he’s been in Kansas City.

Hills’ abilities as a slot cornerback can also be valuable in terms of being flexible with personnel. The Chiefs could be in their nickel package with three safeties on the field, rather than two safeties and three cornerbacks.

In the long term, it’s easy to envision Hill becoming a key playmaker in a creative defense like Spagnuolo’s. As creative as he can get with his blitzes and third-down packages, Hill could be the chess piece that the rest of the defensive scheme revolves around — similarly to Tyrann Mathieu’s role towards the end of 2019.

The bottom line

Whether it’s cornerback or safety, the Chiefs need to add to the secondary at some point early in the draft. They might try to kill two birds with one stone selecting Hill here.

That versatility and athleticism is what makes him such an intriguing pick here, and why it may be a steal based on where he’ll go in the real draft.

Best Players Available:

  • LB Devin Lloyd, Utah
  • C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa
  • EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State
  • S Lewis Cine, Georgia
  • CB Kaiir Elam