Green Bay Packers Rookies: How Will They Do in 2014?

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Jun 17, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix practices during the team

Round 1 – [Pick 21]: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S

Anyone watching the Packers last year realized that they had major issues in the secondary. There were multiple reasons why: There were injuries to key players there (Casey Hayward missed all but three games to hamstring issues, Morgan Burnett missed games to start the year with his own hamstring problems), injuries in the front seven led to issues in getting pressure that further exposed the vulnerable back end, etc.

At the forefront was an undeniable recognition that the safety position was, to be blunt, abysmal. The reality of it became more prevalent after the season, when statistics proved the overall play from the position were even worse than it seemed (last season, Green Bay went without a single interception from the safety position, something that had not happened in at least 50 years).

So once mock draft season kicked around, of course everyone was hyped up for getting a safety. The name that came up for a majority of the lead-up to the draft, and the one a majority of fans hoped the Packers could acquire, is the one they eventually selected: Clinton-Dix.

The pre-draft adoration was valid, seeing the number of positives he brings to the table. He has good size, a quick reaction-time and he’s a very well-rounded player who has shown ability to play well against both the run and pass.

He’s shown an ability to make plays in the passing game during college (7 INTs in three years, 5 INTs in 2012) and also can make sound plays in space; his sure-tackling is something that will be much-appreciated on a team that has had loads of issues in that area in the past few years.

His time at Alabama should also help, being a university that is constantly churning out strong NFL-quality talent every year (one that also runs a pro-style offense, which will have him more ready for some of what he may see from teams the Packers will face).

As with any player, however, there are some potential spots of worry. Though he did have those 7 INTs, only two were from the past year, and he has in some areas been considered to just be an average-level playmaker in general.

Part of that probably stems from his tendency to play somewhat conservatively, which he will need to develop if he wants to succeed. The biggest worry for his immediate future, however, has nothing to do with him; Micah Hyde has been working this offseason to transition into working as a safety (something he had not done previously), and he currently has been the one working with the first-team offense.

Unless Clinton-Dix can manage to work his way above Hyde on the depth chart, he’ll be relegated to a sub-package duty and special teams work, barring injury.

Prediction:

For a majority of the year I see Green Bay using Hyde as the starter, so Clinton-Dix will just get in some sub-package and special teams work at first. But toward the middle-to-end of the year, I believe the staff will feel more comfortable with him out there.

Take that, along with a feeling that Hyde will end up needing to take more reps at CB for somebody toward the end of the year (be it Williams, Shields or Hayward), and you could see him putting up some decent contributions by the time 2014 comes to a close.

35 Tackles (including special teams), 3 INTs, 5 PDs

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  • Peter Maiz

    I don’t see the hoop la with HHCD. I think Sha , Mosley or Pryor as more effective picks

    • Guest

      All of those players were off the board by the Packers’ pick at 21, so I don’t see the sense of your argument here..

      In truth, I personally wanted either Shazier or Mosley back before the draft (not Pryor as much; I thought Clinton-Dix looked to be a better prospect who would work better against the pass than him and I also read of a tendency for leading with his head on hits, a la Brandon Meriweather, which would limit his effectiveness) and was highly disappointed to see both off the board before Green Bay could pick.

      As the draft got closer I more and more began to see the lack of ILB speed and playmaking to be a larger issue than safety, especially with rumors starting way back in April that Hyde could be used at S and researching in some later prospects more.

      When it comes down to it though, Green Bay got the player that a majority of people listed as the #1 safety prospect on the board.This article was not written to lament or compare who the Packers did get with who they could’ve or should’ve hopefully gotten; it was to evaluate the players they selected and share how I predict them to do in this upcoming season.

      I’ve come to trust in the moves Ted Thompson and Co. make and the players they pick – and you should too – because with them at the team’s helm we’ve continued to be a highly successful team that is consistently one of the league’s best. I’m not saying blindly follow their choices – far from it – but realize they get paid for what they do for a reason, they’ve stayed employed in GB as long as they have for a reason, and they have been discussed with the hope of future extensions for a reason: they do their job well and GB succeeds because of it.

      • Peter Maiz

        Leading with his head on hits could have been corrected by coaching as far as Pryor. I understand your article. What I’m suggesting only is that if Mosley or Shazier would have been available, Ted might have pulled the plug on either. I understand why Ted picked Ha Ha and am perplexed why at 21 he may not be the starter. Which suggests to me that they want to coach him up before releasing him. But I, like you, think a lot of these rooks, with the possible exception of Davante, may not see the field all too often.
        What I think Ted tries to do is pick people of good character and a high motor By avoiding the prima donna types we are more likely to pick people more focused on a career and motivated to strive for excellence.

    • Kenn Korb

      The reason players get drafted is because of that potential they have. If they weren’t going to have a good chance at making an impact in some way while still improving, why bring them on your team at all? Actually, that can be moved on to any player ever. For any potential signing, there must be a weighing of pros & cons because no player is perfect.

      For each of the draft picks in this slideshow, there was a combination of the pros and cons within the individual slides. It doesn’t make sense to only talk about the good these players bring and ignore their flaws and other issues, or vice-versa.

      The Goodson pick was a bit perplexing, but as mentioned in his slide he could be seen as a developmental guy for the practice squad this year. If he develops he is future insurance in case something happens with any of the other CBs in the next year.

      Also, when you reach the later rounds you cannot be planning on picking for need anyway; it is strictly for depth and potential. Any GM picking for his team’s needs in the late 6th round better get some resumes printed because he is already on his way out the door.

      • Peter Maiz

        I see your point and see players as developmental, too. For example, R. Rodgers is being praised already and who would have thought. Apparently, he catches really well. As far as Goodson, his former basketball career might have made the right people think that it would translate well into being a cornerback. My main confusion is with HHCD. More talented than the 2013 safeties but may be overlooked because of Hyde, who is a cornerback. At pick 21, you should be able to field the rook instead of possibly placing him as back up.

        • Kenn Korb

          If Clinton-Dix isn’t the starter, that shouldn’t be taken as an indictment on his abilities, but moreso a strong compliment to just how much Hyde has been able to step up and take over at the position. And don’t pigeonhole Hyde as only a CB; the coaching staff has consistently stated all offseason he has versatility and they want him on the field as often as possible. There have been plenty of CBs who’ve shown talent at CB that move to S and show effectiveness in doing so; McCourtey in NE for one, and then Woodson was used in multiple positions during his last season with Green Bay, with other examples out there

  • David Hofstedt

    I read that Adams was having a issue with drops in OTA’s which is a little concerning considering his hands were supposed to be what was his best asset. As far as HHCD go’s I think it was a excellent pick. He’s a smart player who doesn’t get caught out of position, is a sound tackler, and improves the Packers backend big time. I’m so tired of hearing about 40 times. This might sound foolish but take a stopwatch, click it on & off as fast as you can, and you basically have a difference between 4.39 an 4.50. I also seem to remember a 5th rounder taken last year that was said to be “To Slow”. Personally I like this draft, a lot. Janis and Abby aren’t going on the PS, they’ll make the 53.