Mike Hilton. Photo by Michael Mitchell

By Conrad Clowers

Herald Sports Writer

Times have changed and so have defensive schemes. The football is being thrown,..and thrown,..and thrown. With that comes an additional need for a defensive back. The Bengals defensive scheme calls for two cornerbacks and a nickel back. The team feels they have one of the best nickel backs in the league in Mike Hilton.

Cincinnati saw an opportunity to acquire Hilton a few years back. They jumped on the opportunity. The chance has worked like a charm. Hilton has blossomed into one of the leagues best and most consistent DB’s.

It wasn’t an easy road to start out for the Hilton. After starring at Ole Miss, pro scouts weren’t exactly falling all over themselves to give Hilton a chance. The Bengal DB was projected not to be drafted. He was not even given an invite to the combine. Hilton didn’t let the doubters have their moment. He worked hard and was finally signed as an underrated free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hilton would go through a very short time with Jacksonville and New England before he would find a home in Pittsburgh for the next four years. It was there the former Ole Miss Rebel would display and hone his skills to be an important part of the famed Steeler Defense.

Sometimes it’s just fate. Hilton would find his current home with the Bengals in 2021. The team had finally started to expand their horizons in free agency. He would go on to see action in two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl. Thus far in 2023, Hilton has 29 solo tackles, along with 8 assists and 1 interception. Some players have inevitably known star quality before they get drafted. Others, like Hilton, have to show the league and the fans they can play with the best players in the world. Mike Hilton has done that. Not bad for the Tyrone, Georgia, native that has blossomed into a difference-making player on the respected Bengal defense.

The Bengals are currently on a hot streak with four wins in a row. The team will face the Houston Texans with star former rookie C.J Stroud next. No doubt Stroud will keep the Bengal nickel back and the rest of the Bengal defense on their toes.

Don’t expect Hilton to back down to any challenges. He’s been around for seven previous seasons and hasn’t backed down from one yet. 

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