Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (HT: 6’1⅜”; WT: 208 lbs)
First Round: 21st Pick
NFL Comparison: Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
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+ Good size and frame for either safety position
+ Displays good discipline in coverage; doesn’t bite on fakes
+ Recognizes play types quickly
+ Fluid hips when playing man coverage
+ Efficient tackler who doesn’t always go for knockout hits
+ Standout player on the most competitive roster in college football
- An average athlete for a safety
- Will take poor pursuit angles
- Doesn’t anticipate or read routes well, causing him to arrive late to the ball
- Most forced turnovers were off tips
Clinton-Dix has above-average size for an NFL safety, with solid height and a frame that can hold more weight. His speed is slightly above average, but not elite. He struggles to make up for mistakes because he doesn’t accelerate well. An average leaper, Clinton-Dix must win by positioning instead of pure athleticism.
Clinton-Dix was suspended two games in 2013 for taking money from an assistant coach but has a spotless record besides that NCAA minor infraction. He served as a team leader while at Alabama and brings good toughness and motor to a locker room.
At Alabama, Clinton-Dix often played the prestigious position of single-high free safety. He was responsible for stopping deep chunk plays from occurring in both the pass and run game. Occasionally he would line up in man coverage over slot receivers or would play in Cover 2, which has the safeties split the field into two sections.
He flashes good ball skills while in man coverage. He is a smart player who locates the ball early and acts as a receiver by playing the ball. While in zone, he often is too late recognizing where the pass is going and reaches the point of contest too late to force a turnover. A majority of his interceptions came via his teammates' tipped passes or receiver drops, meaning he wasn’t in position to make a clean interception.
Against the Run/Tackling
Clinton-Dix is comfortable and willing to attack the line of scrimmage. He fills gaps well, forcing the ball-carrier to continue searching for running lanes. He works to fight through blocks and doesn’t mind sticking his nose into piles. He is unable to overcome mental mistakes, so if he reads the play incorrectly, he isn’t fast or sudden enough to chase down ball-carriers.
He has smooth hips that allow him to break in and out of throttles cleanly. This limits his wasted movement and gives himself an advantage when working back to the ball. Against slot receivers he is able to cover underneath routes and close quickly to challenge the catch. He covers tight ends closely but might struggle with big NFL tight ends.
Being an elite single-high safety requires a quick processing mind, sudden athleticism and great instincts, but Clinton-Dix doesn’t check all of the boxes. He diagnoses the play type well but isn’t quick enough to take advantage of his reads at a high level. He’s still too reactive in coverage instead of anticipating where the receiver is heading.
Clinton-Dix is a good technician, keeping his eyes in the backfield and squaring his shoulders and hips throughout the play. He reads plays effectively and often fulfills the responsibilities of the play. He shows understanding of positioning to avoid penalties, which is important since he's in man coverage more often.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Clinton-Dix can play in multiple schemes and roles due to his physical traits, which match up well with tight ends and bigger receivers. He fits bets in a Cover 2, which allows him to focus on half of the field and protect the middle of the defense. He doesn’t project as a single-high safety because of his lack of speed and still-developing recognition and anticipation skills.
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