Former undrafted free agent cornerback Mike Hilton certainly was a great find for the Pittsburgh Steelers this past season as the Mississippi product not only beat the odds by making the team out of training camp, he also went on to play in every game during the 2017 season on his way to registering 64 total tackles, 4 sacks, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble in 579 total defensive snaps played as the primary nickel cornerback. In a recent interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com, Hilton reflected back on his first season in Pittsburgh and talked about the positive things he took away from it in addition to how he plans on moving forward into the offseason.
“I feel like I had a very good season,” especially coming in undrafted,” Hilton said. “I had a lot to prove, you know. I feel like I’m just getting started. I’ve got a lot, a lot more to learn, a lot more things to get better at so during the offseason I’m going to take the time to get better and just come back strong for next year.”
Hilton was then asked if there was something specific that clicked for him right away upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and if there was one person that perhaps helped him the most this past season. Without hesitation, he named veteran Steelers cornerback William Gay.
“Really, from the day I stepped in camp, Will Gay, a guy that’s been around, that’s been in my position,” Hilton said. “He really taught me the game and as I progressed throughout the training camp, pre-season, and just throughout the season, I felt comfortable. I felt like the culture was playing to my strengths and I feel like I was making a big impact on defense.”
Hilton was then asked to talk more about how Gay was an unselfish leader on defense last season and what that says about him.
“You can tell how bad he wants to win,” Hilton said of Gay. “Him being a veteran guy, he’s been around, so he’s pretty much seen it all, you know. He has a little techniques that he could give you and as a young guy, you try to use those techniques to build your game and I feel like I did that throughout the season.”
During the upcoming long offfseason, Hilton told Matthews that his main goal will be to get faster and stronger in addition to working on one other specific part of his game.
“A big part, I’m going to work on my mental game,” Hilton said. “I feel like that’s where I really need to step up, you know, just learning different techniques from the guys of my stature from different teams. Try to take the things they do and then add it to my game.”
Hilton then added that his mental game development is also something that both head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake told him they’d like to see him work on during the offseason.
“They felt good about me being able to tackle and cover and just play well in slot,” Hilton said. “So they feel like if I get my mental game up, I can take to it to another level.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) February 1, 2018