Baltimore Ravens Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Jason MarcumCorrespondent IIIApril 15, 2014

STARKVILLE, MS - NOVEMBER 16:  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a touchdown reception intended for Jameon Lewis #4 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Starkville, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When the Baltimore Ravens make their first selection of the 2014 NFL draft, there's a good chance it will be to address their defensive backfield. 

They are far too thin at both cornerback and safety. In today's pass-happy NFL, that's a recipe for disaster. 

One of those positions has to be addressed early, and safety might be the position that gets the nod at pick no. 17.

While Ravens did draft a safety in the first round of the 2013 draft, they could do so again this year. They took Matt Elam out of Florida, and he's now expected to transition to strong safety after playing free safety in '13.

That's because SS James Ihedigbo signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Lions. With Elam moving from FS to his more natural SS spot, he needs to be replaced.

Elam played out of position at FS as a rookie because Ihedigbo was entrenched as the strong safety, but now that he's gone, Elam should go back to that role. 

With Elam at SS, the Ravens must now find a FS to play center field in a defense that loves to blitz and leave the cornerbacks on an island. 

That's where having a solid FS comes into play, and arguably the best one in this year's draft is Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

It just so happens the Ravens are interested. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the team has met with Clinton-Dix and Baltimore appears to be a good fit for him.

Clinton-Dix does everything you'd ask of a safety and then some. He's fast and can be utilized effectively on safety blitzes. He's also physical enough to play the run, but also posses the lateral quickness and straight-line speed to cover any part of the field.

In 11 games last year as a junior, Clinton-Dix finished fourth on the team in tackles with 46 and recorded two interceptions. He was a second-team All-American and first-team All-SEC pick. As a sophomore in 2012, Clinton-Dix played in every game and led the SEC with five interceptions. 

Alabama often played with a single high safety, which effectively made him the overseer of their defense. Clinton-Dix will be expected to play that same role with the Ravens.

Jamison Hensley of ESPN believes Ha Ha is the Ravens' ideal starting FS if they get what they want:

If the Ravens had their choice, Clinton-Dix would likely be their starting free safety next season. He's the type of rangy free safety that the Ravens' defense needs, and he is the perfect complement to Matt Elam, last year's first-round pick.

He's the kind of player that can help the Ravens defense reach the next level and become elite in 2014, which will also help them get back into playoffs after missing them in 2013.