Of all the top-ranked defensive backs in this year’s draft, none has enjoyed the degree of on-field collegiate success enjoyed by Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who entered this offseason as arguably the most sought-after prospect at his position.
A member of the Crimson Tide’s national championship in 2013, the two-year starter enters the draft following a junior season that saw him swiftly climb the rankings of draft-eligible safeties.
Clinton-Dix helped guide an Alabama defense that held its opponents to 10 points or fewer nine times during the 2013 season, contributing a pair of interceptions. In addition to performing well in coverage, Clinton-Dix also displayed an improved ability to add run support in the box last fall, as his 3.5 tackles for loss were the second-most among Alabama defensive backs.
“My sophomore year, I wasn’t in the box that much, but in my junior year, I feel like I got involved in the box a lot,” Clinton-Dix said. “I made a lot of tackles in the box, so I think I did a lot with that in my junior year. At the next level, you’ve got to do both—play deep and play in the box. If you can do both you’ll be fine.”
“I’m one of the best safeties in this draft because I played in Saban’s system, and I’m a fast learner,” Clinton-Dix said. “I played at a high level in the SEC. You see a lot of teams running a pro-style offense in college. Playing in Coach Saban’s defense, we played in the nickel, the dime—a lot of different defenses.
That experience has Clinton-Dix positioned as a likely first-round selection, and possibly the first safety to come off the draft board. In addition to his collegiate resume, he displayed the physical skills that have made him an elite prospect at the NFL Combine.
Clinton-Dix displayed above-average speed for his position at the Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds, and also showed good lateral movement by ranking among the top safeties in the shuttle run.
Clinton-Dix has jockeyed for position with Louisville’s Calvin Pryor for supremacy among safeties entering the draft this spring, and figures to be chosen near the midway point of the first round. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay recently placed Clinton-Dix as the 10th overall pick, to the Detroit Lions. With the Rams currently thin at the safety position, many other draft experts have Clinton-Dix pegged as a potential option for the Rams at 13th overall.
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