Garry Jones/Associated Press
Not long ago the Steelers had one of the top safety tandems in the league with Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. But all good things must come to an end, and age is finally catching up to the duo.
Pittsburgh already began to address this issue last season when it traded for an additional fourth-round pick to acquire Shamarko Thomas.
Clark will be a free agent so there is a chance that Thomas will be the next man up to take over at free safety—that is if the coaches believe he is ready. That fills one spot, but still leaves them without a future replacement for Troy Polamalu.
Or the coaches may let Thomas develop another year behind Polamalu and look for a high-rated safety who could potentially start as a rookie in place of Clark.
Because of this you can fully expect that safety will be one of the top draft needs and that the top two safeties to both be on the Steelers’ draft radar.
Hasean Clinton-Dix is a 6’1” safety from Alabama who can drop into coverage and play near the line of scrimmage. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller believes that he can start in his first year.
While Clinton-Dix should be a good player at the next level, Calvin Pryor is a bit more intriguing. At 6’2” he is taller than Clinton-Dix and may have more upside. Here is what Miller had to say about Pryor:
When evaluating defensive players, I want a guy who is a little bit crazy. You have to be if you're going to consistently attack the football and punish offensive players.
When you find that in a free safety, you take notice.
Calvin Pryor has all the athletic ability you want at the position. He's big enough (listed at 6'2", 208 lbs) and shows very good speed on film when running in coverage and when attacking the ball. And he's a hitter. That's what I like best.
Pryor isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and knock the hell out of a wide receiver, tight end or running back. He's not always controlled in this area, but that recklessness makes him a feared player in the secondary.
As you watch Pryor play, he can be an absolutely monster playing near the line of scrimmage and has the ability to blow up the run game. What he lacks is experience in coverage, but given his size and speed, he has all of the tools to develop into an excellent player.
Now the question becomes is whether or not they believe he is worth the 15th overall selection, because it is highly unlikely that this hot prospect falls to them in the second round.