The 2014 NFL Combine was much anticipated and it didn’t disappoint.
Well, in some ways, it did.
The world was hoping to get a look at the “intangibles” brought to the table by sensation Jadeveon Clowney; he delivered a scintillating 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, 37.5 inches in the vertical and 10 feet, 6 inches in the broad jump. Those are rare physical specimen numbers.
The Green Bay Packers won’t even be able to blink before he is off the draft board. I was sure hoping that he would tank his exercises, be outperformed in all on-field drills and leave everyone with even more burning questions of his passion and work ethic. It would take that and more for Clowney to fall to the 21st overall pick in this years NFL draft.
There is MUCH speculation that the Green Bay Packers will use their first-round pick at 21 on a high-caliber safety. I can’t lie – that is what I am hoping for. Do I anticipate that truly happening?
Ted Thompson has proven that he does not entertain need over value. There is no question that the Packers are in desperate need of a safety who can change the game. The questions is: does Ted believe he can find that guy in later rounds?
In 2013, fans called for Eddie Lacy in the first round. When Ted went with DE Datone Jones and left Lacy on the board into the 2nd round, there was a degree of panic setting in. No one could have imagined that Lacy would fall to the early 60s. Clearly, Thompson and Co. know what they are doing.
That philosophy is most assuredly going to be tested this time around. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are the top safety prospects in this draft class. Both made a splash at the combine, in their own way. Neither of these guys are going to be worth the 21st pick if prospects like Aaron Donald, C.J Mosley, and Louis Nix III are still on the board when the Packers are on the clock … are they?
Let’s play a little game of PROS and CONS for #PICK 21:
- Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix: He is one of the top safety prospects in the 2014 draft, coming out of a strong SEC conference. However, he was surrounded by a loaded roster of explosive talent and therefore most likely had his flaws hidden in other players strengths. He had a fair combine and tested well in the 40-yard dash (4.58) and the vertical jump (33 inches) but benched only 11 reps at 225 pounds, seven below his top competition, Calvin Pryor. He is taller than
most of the current Packers’ secondary members, a couple inches over both Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. He is quick, and is sure-handed. He isn’t the violent hitter that the Packers are looking for but he is a consistent tackler and is proven to make a good open-field tackle.
- Calvin Pryor: He also had a fair combine and could have actually raised his draft stock a bit. He rivaled Clinton-Dix in the 40-yard dash (4.58) and his vertical measured in at (34.5 inches). He benched 18 reps at 225 pounds and proved his strength. While he didn’t perform as well on the on-field drills as Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, he is definitely the most violent hitter in this year’s draft class. He puts his body on the line and likes to have his presence felt on the field. He would be a great addition to the Packers’ secondary in physicality and his beast mentality.
You can make the argument that either of these men would instantly upgrade the Packers defense. Is that enough to warrant a first round pick? I think it is. Guys like Mosley, Nix III and Donald are going to be hot commodities after the “QB scramble” is over and done with. Many an organization will consider themselves lucky to add their skill sets to active rosters. They won’t be around for the Packers to dwell on.
Realistically, it will come down to these two guys. Even with the unrest on the defensive line, even with the linebacker position in disarray, I still believe that the safety position has been overlooked for far too long. We have been searching in the bargain bin for far too long. If we have to spend a first-rounder in order to make an immediate impact on defense … I say that will be well worthwhile.