Dallas Cowboys Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Chris ImperialeCorrespondent IApril 16, 2014

Alabama's Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (6) intercepts a pass over Notre Dame's DaVaris Daniels (10) during the second half of the BCS National Championship college football game Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip

The Dallas Cowboys defense was downright embarrassing last year. By the numbers, the defense was dead last in the NFL and was the worst season in franchise history.

With that said, there is nearly a consensus that Dallas will use its first-round pick in next month’s draft on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will be under a microscope next year and will need some new weapons for this unit to improve.

The one player who I think would create an enormous impact is Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the Cowboys need help along the defensive line and must draft several prospects in this draft. However, the safety position has been a weakness for the Cowboys for years, and nothing serious has ever been done about it.

Barry Church is a very solid NFL player, but a safety is only as good as his counterpart. Last year, that was a combination of J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath.

I would agree that Wilcox showed a lot of potential in his rookie season, but is he really going to start for the next decade? I personally don’t see it and think Dallas would be wise to find someone more permanent.

Although I think it’s necessary that the team select both a defensive end and tackle within the first few rounds, there are plenty to be had, and the No. 16 choice doesn't have to be one. The safety position is a different story. Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are the only two projected to go in the first round and in my opinion, are the only two Dallas should consider.

Clinton-Dix is an athletic playmaker with the size (6’1”, 208 lbs) to be an every-down starter. He plays with great instincts and uses his good awareness to make plays all over the field.

He’s quite physical, whether he’s hitting receivers through the middle or pinching up to help against the run. At the same time, Clinton-Dix is light on his feet and possesses the speed and ball skills to disrupt receivers.

The Cowboys defense needs assistance in multiple areas, but I think the secondary is worse off than many believe. Both cornerbacks, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, were often outplayed last year, leading to monster games from opposing receivers. Orlando Scandrick and Church were the only consistent cogs in the secondary, and it showed on a weekly basis.

Dallas surrendered nearly 287 yards per game through the air in 2013. This was just three yards from being worst in the league.

If Jerry Jones wants his team to actually compete for a Super Bowl, the Cowboys must solidify the back of its defense. Too often they gave up game-changing plays in the air that allowed their opponents to score so quickly.

Clinton-Dix is a star in the making. He had a tremendous influence in every game he played at college and will continue to improve at the next level. He has a rare set of skills and is a future Pro Bowler.