Instant analysis, grade for Bengals agreeing to terms with CB Mike Hilton

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Chris Roling
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The Cincinnati Bengals have once again remade the cornerback room during free agency.

After agreeing to terms with cornerback Chidobe Awuzie — a move we graded well — the Bengals turned around and added Mike Hilton, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hilton, a slot man, will slide right into the role left vacant by Mackensie Alexander. He’ll be on the field with Awuzie and Trae Waynes on the boundaries while Darius Phillips is the first guy off the bench.

And Hilton is a really fun story, too. He went undrafted in 2016 and has since scratched and clawed his way into a starting role before earning a big contract.

The numbers say it all. Over four years, Hilton has let up eight touchdowns with seven interceptions and 19 pass breakups, plus 43 pressures and 10 sacks — he’s a do-it-all slot corner type built for the modern game. He graded at a 68.9 at PFF last year and has a career-high of 83.3 from 2017.

And as Bengals fans might remember, he’s an alpha-type like Vonn Bell.

Which is to say this is a very, very good signing for the Bengals — maybe the best so far. Hilton fits the attitude and is versatile enough to let the coaches get creative.

Granted, how the Bengals have gone about upgrading the secondary room is a little odd. Letting William Jackson go and using the money to pay two players is a gamble. But Waynes-Awuzie-Hilton-Bell-Jessie Bates could be a solid starting tandem.

In hindsight, this could look like one of the better steals of the legal-tampering window.

Grade: A

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