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NFL Draft: Breaking Down the Top Safety Prospects

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Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6). Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

 

TIER ONE

1. Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville: 5-11, 207 (4.58)

Louisville Cardinals defensive back Calvin Pryor runs with the ball during the 2014 NFL Combine. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It seems to be splitting hairs between Pryor and Clinton-Dix when ranking the top safety in this draft. I personally favor Pryor just a little bit more than Clinton-Dix because I believe he possesses more upside and playmaking ability.

Although Pryor didn’t run a great 40 time at the combine, watch him on film and you’ll see he plays faster than he times. Whereas Clinton-Dix can disappear at times on film, Pryor makes his presence known on the field and seems to always be in the thick of things, whether it’s playing up in the box to stop the run or laying a hit on a receiver crossing over the middle of the field.

Pryor makes impact plays. He recorded seven interceptions, eight forced fumbles, and batted down 14 passes in his three years at Louisville. He also recorded 11 tackles for loss, which shows his ability to get into the backfield and track down the ball carrier.

Pryor is one of the most physical safeties in this draft and doesn’t shy away from contact by any means. He does need to do a better job wrapping up when tackling in the open field, instead of always trying to lower his shoulder and deliver the knockout blow.

Pryor could also improve in coverage, where he flashes plenty of ability but shows some lapses at times.

(Draft Projection: Round 1)

 

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. USA Today Sports photograph

2. Hasean (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama: 6-1, 208 (4.58)

Clinton-Dix is often regarded as the top safety in this year’s draft class. Many believe he will be gone by the time the Packers pick in the first round.

However, when I watch the Alabama tape, I don’t see a top-20 player in Clinton-Dix. I think he’s suited more for the end of the first round or even early in the second.

When watching Clinton-Dix, I just don’t see a guy who will consistently make impact plays in the secondary that warrants a mid-first round pick.

He is a reliable safety who plays well as a deep center fielder. He can close on a throw and use his length in coverage to swat the ball away or blanket a receiver. He’s even a decent tackler who can deliver a big hit from time to time.

But I think Clinton-Dix has also benefited from playing behind an excellent Alabama front seven, that included the likes of C.J. Mosley, Ed Stinson, and Adrian Hubbard.

Clinton-Dix also had his best year in 2012, where he recorded four interceptions, but was playing alongside 2013 first-rounder Dee Milliner, who rarely needed safety help.

Clinton-Dix is a solid option at safety and a player I wouldn’t complain by any means if he landed in Green Bay, but I do believe Pryor’s active playing style and playmaking potential would complement the Packers secondary better than Clinton-Dix.

The Packers already have a smart, reliable safety in Morgan Burnett. Now they need the player who can add a little punch to the secondary.

(Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2)

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Tags: Calvin Pryor Deone Bucannon Featured Green Bay Packers Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Jimmie Ward NFL Draft Popular

  • Mike Brand

    think loston is a bit under ranked but i remember before the east west shrine game tt was loving tre boston but never heard anything else after that.

    • Dan

      I’ve heard that as well, Mike, that the Packers showed some interest in Boston. Loston is a tough one for me to rank. I liked him a lot in college, but it’s difficult for me to gauge how well he’ll translate to the NFL. I’m just not sure how athletic he is. Where would you rank him among this safety class?

      • Mike Brand

        for me i think loston is a top 6 safety living in the south we got a lot of lsu games. he is a hard hitter a little bit like pryor and he has some decent speed. from what i have seen outside the iowa game he had a knack for being around the ball

      • Mike Brand

        boston is the one i cant find much om wish i could see his highlights to see what ted sees in him

        • Dan

          Did you check out the highlights post I put together of the top ten safeties on this list? Boston is on there. You can find the piece on our home page.