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.
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