The Bengals poached a big defender from the Steelers. Nice!
The Cincinnati Bengals went out these past two offseasons and really retooled their entire defense. Plenty of that work was done via free agency, where we’ve seen big-name players like D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes get huge paydays from Cincinnati.
That effort continued this offseason when the team added former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mike Hilton in free agency. The slot corner was quite the get for a team trying to get their defense up to par after struggling to stop most teams, especially in key situations. It seems Pro Football Focus also agrees with the move as they rank Hilton the fourth among slot corners:
4) Mike Hilton, Cincinnati Bengals
Hilton has been the most disruptive slot blitzer in the league over the last four seasons. His 41 pressures since 2017 are 13 more than any other cornerback in the NFL, showcasing a great feel for timing on the blitz. But that’s not all he’s good for. Hilton ranks in the 93rd percentile in slot coverage grade over that same time frame. He should give Cincinnati’s defense a boost in a secondary that has been completely rebuilt in free agency over the last two offseasons.
It is hard to talk about Hilton without mentioning his blitzing, but Pro Football Focus does a great job at also mentioning that Hilton did a fantastic job in coverage. He is more than a unique player who has a knack for picking the right time to rush the passer. He is also able to shutdown those pesky slot receivers that cause issues.
The move seemed to be an easy one to make for Cincinnati. Hilton was an established veteran player who is still in his prime on a fairly affordable deal. He has also been pretty vocal about his excitement to come to the Bengals, which is always nice to see. Hopefully he continues down this path, and maybe he will climb the list over the next few seasons.