Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix sounds more like a political joke from the '90s than an athletic superstar, but this defensive back's NFL projection is no joke. We're about to get a close look at it in Tuesday's scouting combine in Indianapolis.
The 6'1", 208-pound safety, according to Alabama's official website, will eventually make NFL headlines for far more than his unusual first name, which is actually Ha'Sean (pronounced Ha-Seen). He merely goes by the nickname his grandmother started calling him at the age of three, Ha Ha, according to Andrew Gribble of The Birmingham News.
Clinton-Dix was asked about the worst part of his nickname in Sunday's media session.
"The whole President Clinton thing with Monica Lewinsky," he told Gribble, smiling. "I didn't know too much about that, but that's pretty much what it was."
If you are curious, Clinton-Dix was born Dec. 21, 1992—so, a month before President Bill Clinton took office in January 1993. It was also long before any Lewinsky sex scandal took place.
His unique name might have made casual college football observers take notice, but talent evaluators have been noticing for years. Clinton-Dix picked Alabama over Florida, Florida State, Southern California, Ohio State and Notre Dame—those are some choices!—when Rivals.com and Scout.com rated him as the No. 1 safety out of high school, as Alabama's official website tells us.
He did not disappoint in his three-year college career.
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama, Defensive Statistics|
Numbers just don't seem to do Clinton-Dix justice. Bleacher Report's video compares him to Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, but you can make the case he is the size-and-speed package of the Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas (the ball hawk) and Kam Chancellor (the enforcer) all rolled into one.
Among Clinton-Dix's strengths, according to B/R:
- Quick click-and-go
- Smooth, balanced backpedal
- Will come up to hit but has good range
If there is a drawback to him, it might merely be in the fact he is too quick to react. He can be overaggressive, biting on the play action.
CBS Sports' Rob Rang calls him the next Thomas, albeit one who is equally quick and perhaps more physical.
Drafting Clinton-Dix in the middle of Round 1 can instantly change a team's defensive fortunes. There is no shortage of teams that need a game-changer on the back end of their secondary, particularly in this pass-happy, modern-day NFL.
The above CBS Sports draft profile lists him as a candidate for the Chicago Bears at No. 14, the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 22 or the Chiefs at No. 23. A solid Clinton-Dix combine performance Tuesday might not allow him to get past the Bears, though. Heck, the New York Giants at No. 12 might be interested.
Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Green Bay Packers might be weighing between a strong safety or a free safety at No. 21 overall, too. If they want the run-support guy, it could be Louisville's Calvin Pryor. If they want the ball hawk, it would be Clinton-Dix.
Those are the only two safeties who draw a first-round projection at CBS Sports.
The Alabama safety, who is the top-ranked player at his position and No. 19 overall, compared himself directly to Pryor, telling Dunne:
CP is a great player. He plays fast. He's always around the ball. He can hit. He's a physical person, so if I could compare myself, I'd say I'm quick as him. I can't say I could hit like him. He's a big hitter.
Clinton-Dix sees himself as more of a complete safety, though, not just the run-support kind, telling Dunne:
I'm very fast, very physical and not afraid to line up in the slot. I can do it all.
[Chancellor] is a big play, a big-time safety. But you also need safeties that can cover slot receivers and also play the deep middle of the field and in the box. So I think you need more versatile safeties in this league now.
Dunne adds Clinton-Dix is also a graduate of Nick Saban's complex, NFL-ready defensive schemes, even making the defensive calls as a junior this past season.
Big, fast and smart? Yeah, sounds like someone to watch work Tuesday in Indy...and eventually on Sunday afternoons, if not prime time.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, was the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this past season. He is now an NFL featured writer here. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.