Initial comments ...
"Today, we exercised Jonah Williams' fifth-year option. We're excited about his future with us, so we were excited to do that, and he was excited for that news. He'll be a big part of what we continue to do.
"With that being said, today is about Dax. We're really excited to add Dax. Dax has been a tremendous player for a long time. Like I mentioned last night, he's a great player coming out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He's been at Michigan the last three years, and has made a tremendous impact on one of the best defenses in all of college football. He played a lot of different roles for them. Everyone in that building speaks very highly of Dax — not only the play style, but the intangibles. The stuff on the field, and the stuff off the field. As you guys know, that's exactly the type of traits that we look for in our players. He embodies everything that we've searched to be about. We're really excited that he was where he was last night in the draft, and that we were able to get him at No. 31 and add him to the mix. He's going to be a great weapon for us for a long time."
At what point did you realize that you had the possibility of becoming a first round pick?
"I really didn't have a feeling like that. I was just going into the night with my family praying that everything would be around the first round. That was my expectation — to be a first rounder. Going in throughout the night, I was just enjoying it with my family."
How big of a help is it to have an older brother, Justice Hill, who played collegiately at Oklahoma State and in the NFL with Baltimore? Can you lean on that as you get yourself ready for the next level?
"He's definitely been a big supporter in my corner, especially during these times right now. Really just relying on him, and not just trying to figure out myself. He's definitely been a big part of this process for me. Definitely having him, and him going through the same process has been beneficial for me. Then going forward, I kind of know what to expect as well."
How important is it for you to be joining an organization that's on the rise, after having just played in a Super Bowl?
"Today learning more about the history is really a byproduct of what we've done last year. Really just the success of the team has me excited to be a part of that. Me coming here, I'm really excited for the opportunity and seeing if I can expound on that and hopefully make another run to the Super Bowl."
What was the best advice your brother gave to you about the NFL?
"To take it a day at a time. It's going to be a long time, and you're going to hit the 'rookie wall' — that term everyone talks about. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it's going to be a long season. So just take it a day at a time and really just try to be more involved with the team as time goes on."
What's your biggest strength as a player?
"My versatility. I know I don't want to limit myself — for sure. I know I don't want to spread myself too thin. I know I can play a lot of different roles, so that's one of my biggest assets."
Besides family, who would you give credit to that helped mentor you?
"One of my basketball coaches actually came to support me yesterday. My basketball coach has kind of been there from day one, and then one of my football coaches that was there from day one as well — since elementary school. I give credit to the people that invested in me outside of family. Then close friends — there's been a whole plethora of people that has been in my corner these last few years and throughout my whole life."
Who are your favorite defensive backs to watch around the league?
"Jamal Adams, Tyrann Mathieu, Jalen Ramsey — guys like that."
You said yesterday that your heart is your next-greatest asset besides your versatility. What do you mean by that?
"I don't want to be selfish. I feel like once someone is selfish, the team won't be as good as it needs to be. Once I get here, I feel like that is something that is very important, very vital to the success of a team. We had a lot of that last year, and I just want to do more of that to get us on another good run."
You obviously play nickel DB and moved all around the field at the safety. Do you think you could play outside CB as well?
"Yeah, if I get more teaching, more coaching. I really haven't had too much coaching or experience out there. I definitely feel like I could play the outside role as well."
Is that something you'd want to try?
"Whatever the coaches want me to do, that's what I'm doing. So coming in, finding that role, and being all the way in — being bought in on day one, whenever that day is."
Was that ever discussed at Michigan? Did you ever say, 'Hey coach, let's try it outside,' or were there ever any practices where you did that at all?
"Yeah. At practices during one on ones I would be out there. But for the most part, I would be in the nickel safety position."
With Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh's experience in the NFL, did you feel like Michigan really set you up for you to be able to make an impact in the NFL right away?
"Yes. I definitely feel like Coach Harbaugh had me prepared. I appreciate it really now in retrospect, just seeing all the hard practices we did — it was kind of like a means to an end. I knew it was for a reason, and it was for this reason right now. So I definitely feel like he prepared me for this situation."
How did you end up playing safety?
"I came into high school and I didn't really know what I wanted to play. And so I played receiver in high school, and they kind of threw me at safety as well. It stuck from there."
What's your favorite part about playing the position?
"It's really a lot of different things. You can make plays without having the ball in your hands. That's kind of like a defensive thing where you really don't have to have the ball in your hand to really make plays. You can go from a call, then from there, it's kind of based on your performance. So just the versatility it comes with."
Has Vonn Bell or Jessie Bates gotten a hold of you yet?
"A few minutes ago Sam Hubbard reached out. Then Chris Evans — another Michigan guy — reached out to me as well."
Sam is an Ohio State guy ...
"Yeah I know (laughs). It's some O State people around here I didn't know too much about, but now I know (laughs)."
How quick will you bring up 42-27, the final score of last year's OSU-Michigan game, when you get into the locker room?
"Oh that's day one (laughs). That's day one. I got bragging rights for it now since I think I'm 1-1. But hey, this year was a big win for us."
What one quality were you looking forward to sharing with the team that the data and the film didn't show?
"I'm a personable guy, an easy guy to get along with. I'm a cool guy to hang out with. So, not really always being about football, in this business being close with your teammates outside of football. That's one thing I bring to the team as well."
You're only 21, but why do you think you can come into the NFL in this particular locker room and the moment not be too big for you?
"Because I'm level-headed. I know I have good character. I know I'm a good person. I really look out for the best interest of the team, not really being selfish — I'm not that type of person. I know coming to the NFL, it's all about winning and being team-oriented. I feel like that's who I am as a person."
Last night, you also mentioned that you want to make sure your teammates are playing at their best level. How do you go about doing that?
"Really just not being forceful about anything. Not wanting them to do, specifically, what I want them to do or putting them out of their game. Really, I just want everyone to be comfortable doing their jobs. I feel like that determines the success of the team."
Who is your favorite player that you covered in college?
"I enjoyed covering everyone. Everyone had different types of games, and I feel like that brought the best out of me."
Is there anyone you're looking forward to guarding in the NFL?
"Everyone (laughs). I know everyone is good. Every week there's going to be someone good. I know it wasn't like that in college, so in the NFL every week is a big week for me."
Did you feel like you had a connection with Bengals coaches when you met them at the combine and during all of the Zoom meetings?
"Yeah. I could definitely tell it was a good connection there — more of a genuine feel. I definitely felt like I could see myself playing here. Having a great relationship with the coaches, I definitely had good feelings when they called me name."
How familiar are you with the Bengals? Did you watch the AFC Championship and Super Bowl LVI?
"Oh yeah, I did for sure. Throughout the year, I watched them periodically but not every week. But toward the end of the season, I definitely tuned into that defense and the overall team."
What will the rest of this weekend be like for you schedule-wise?
"Really just making sure I'm still training. That's what I've been doing throughout this time — just making sure my body is ready for the hardships of coming in as a rookie. Staying in shape is my biggest thing. And relaxing — I know that's something I need to do as well, because I've been on the run these last few weeks. So relaxing and training."
Yesterday at your draft party you had hats for all 32 teams laid out on a table. What was the process for that? Who was in charge of getting all of those together?
"I wasn't even there for that — that was my mom's job (laughs). I was in Vegas for an NFLPA event Monday through Wednesday. I had to wake up at like 5 a.m. to catch (a flight) to get to my draft party on Thursday. So whenever I got back home, my mom had all that prepared for me. That was her job (laughs)."
Speaking of your mom, what did this mean for her and your family at that moment last night?
"My mom, she's an outgoing person. So when she saw my name, she was excited for me and screaming. She's got that Jamaican in her (laughs). She's always been there for me. I'm glad to experience that with my family. My mom was right by my side."
The Bengals said they were surprised you were still available at No. 31 last night. Were you expecting to go earlier? What was it like having to wait and deal with the uncertainty?
"With the uncertainty, I knew that was the biggest part of it. I didn't want to get too high or low. I was kind of getting a little antsy toward the end of it, but I was just ecstatic when I got that phone call. Throughout the night, however I was feeling, it was just like an opportunity for me and I was going to make the most of it."
Was there a just-in-case Day 2 draft party planned?
"No (laughs). I was trying to save myself the embarrassment of having to tell the people to come back (laughs). I was hoping that (the teams picking in the 30s) would call me."
Do you prefer being called Dax or Daxton?
"Dax. Everyone I know and everyone that knows of me calls me Dax."
You ran track in high school and obviously have very good speed. Did the track coaches at Michigan try to recruit you at all?
"No. Neither one of them said anything. I was trying to walk on for basketball at one point, because I was a basketball player growing up. That was my first love. But that just never happened. And track never happened as well."
What NFL team did you root for growing up?
"Like I said, I was a basketball guy. I was a Duke-North Carolina guy. Football wasn't really a sport I followed growing up, so it was toward the back end of my career."
Who is your favorite basketball player of all time?
"Michael Jordan, for sure."
What about right now?
What position did you play in basketball?
"I was a point guard/shooting guard. I had a shot, and I could facilitate a little bit as well (laughs)."
What have the last 12-15 hours been like for you? You were at home last night, and now you're here in Cincinnati...
"Man, I'm like sleep-deprived right now (laughs). I'm running on fumes. I don't feel like I'm here right now (laughs). I'm glad to be here, but yeah, it's been a whirlwind. Like I said, I was just in Vegas and came back home to see my family. And my girl, she traveled with me as well. So that was a good experience, going through all of that. Once-in-a-lifetime experience that I was grateful for."
Did you sleep at all?
"I got like two hours of sleep. After the party ended once I got drafted, I was talking to people for like two more hours after that. So it was a whole night for sure."
You were Academic All-Big Ten at Michigan. What was your major?
"So I was trying to get into business school, but I didn't get into it. And then I was a communication major, then switched to African American Studies with a minor in Entrepreneurship."
Going back to Michael Jordan being your favorite basketball player, was that a factor in you choosing uniform No. 23?
"That was the reason I got it. Bates has No. 30, so I let him have it. No. 23 was the best number that I could see myself playing in."
Were you in Vegas just as a getaway? To see the Raiders?
"It was for an NFL Players Association event. They invited 35 guys, so I was there with those guys and my girlfriend. I was there to see the city. That was my first time actually being in the city, so it was a good experience. I wanted to get away for a little bit as well."
Michigan is a Jordan brand school. Did that matter at all when you were being recruited?
"No. It was really the feel I had and the coaches. I could see myself playing there. That was really the main reason."
Talk about your Michigan teammate Aidan Hutchinson and the moment he had last night, being drafted by his hometown team in the Detroit Lions ...
"Actually, I was in contact with him this morning. I was really excited to see him be in his hometown — he's from Plymouth, so not too far from Detroit. With the season he had and career he had at Michigan, I'm glad it all turned out well for him. To share that moment with him and be first-rounders, the entire Michigan brand was on display and it showed what Michigan can produce."