A Scout's Take on the Selection of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix by the Packers

Bob FoxContributor IMay 10, 2014

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama) poses for photos after being selected as the number twenty-one overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Green Bay Packers at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

As I often do, I had another opportunity on Friday to talk with scout Chris Landry on Steve Duemig's radio show, which was guest-hosted by Tom Krasniqi.

Landry and I have been talking for several months about the top safety prospects in the 2014 NFL draft, and he had Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at the top of his draft board at that position. In January, he told me:

"Clinton-Dix is the best of the bunch (safeties). He's got really good size. I think he's got good range. I think he's physical and I think he's got the ability to make plays on the ball."

But through all of our conversations, Chris thought that Clinton-Dix would be off the board by the time the Green Bay Packers had their selection in the first round with pick No. 21.

Landry talked about who the Packers might pick in the first round with me again a couple of weeks ago:

"In terms of a player, I have mentioned a couple of them like [C.J.] Mosley. Maybe one of the safeties [Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor] is there, but I doubt it. But if one them is there then I think that is in play."

So when the Packers were actually able to select Clinton-Dix in the first round on Thursday night, I definitely wanted to get Landry's take on that development:

"I didn't really think Clinton-Dix would be there for you, but I thought about you last night and I knew Packer fans like yourself have got to be really happy. This is a perfect example of a guy who knows how to run a draft in Ted Thompson, that works that draft board and good players fall to you. And you knew that the player was going to be a good one, and I thought it might be another guy from Alabama [C.J. Mosley], but this one's a great one and was a really good pick for them."

The Packers didn't get an opportunity to select Mosley because he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens with pick No. 17 in the first round.

But having the opportunity to select a gifted safety like Clinton-Dix was perfect for a team like the Packers, who were desperate for help at that position.

Just watch the games from last season. The safeties for the Packers did not create even one turnover all season. Not one. There were also multiple missed tackles and a number of blown coverages.

One of the starting safeties from last season is gone. M.D. Jennings left to go the Chicago Bears via free agency after the Packers did not tender an offer for him as a restricted free agent.

The other starting safety is still in Green Bay. That would be Morgan Burnett, who before last season flashed some great potential in 2011 and 2012 with his play. That led to a contract extension just before training camp last summer.

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Now the Packers can team Burnett and Clinton-Dix together. Both have similar size, and both have good range in coverage.

Clinton-Dix had two nice years at Alabama, where he had 88 tackles, seven interceptions and 13 passes defended.

In 2012, Clinton-Dix played deeper in coverage for the Crimson Tide, while in 2013, he played closer to the line of scrimmage.

So where will Burnett and Clinton-Dix line up at safety? Who will play free safety and who will play strong safety?

My guess is that the Packers will play Burnett at strong safety and Clinton-Dix at free safety, where he could better utilize his terrific ability to close on the deeper passing routes.

Time will tell how the tandem of Burnett and Clinton-Dix pans out in 2014 and the future, but it has to be better than last season's combination of Burnett and Jennings.