NFL Draft: Q&A with Draft Guru Tony Pauline

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert (80) catches a pass against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6). Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Q. Let’s talk more about the safeties. You already gave your take on Pryor, so what are your thoughts on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?

Pauline: Clinton-Dix is solid. I do think players coming out of Alabama tend to be overrated, and I see that in Clinton-Dix’s case. I mean he’s a good player, but I just don’t know if he’s first round material. I think he’s a nice talent, but I don’t think he’s anything special.

Q. How about some of the other early-round safety prospects? 

Pauline: They’re mediocre at best. Terrence Brooks from Florida State is a good player. He doesn’t have great size, but I think he can play at the next level. He is more of a third or fourth round guy. Ed Reynolds of Stanford is OK. Ahmad Dixon from Baylor has shown flashes, but he doesn’t always play disciplined and sometimes gets called for dumb penalties.

Overall, I’m just not a big fan of this safety class. If you’re going to get a safety, you’re going to have to find someone probably in the third or fourth round and hope you can strike gold with him.

Q. What about WSU’s Deone Bucannon?

Pauline: Bucannon really disappointed me at the Senior Bowl. I was a big fan of Bucannon during the season, but he really struggled in man-to-man coverage drills. He was getting beat and didn’t really show the ability to quickly backpedal in transition, which tells me he will struggle if you place him over the slot receiver.

I like him as a safety, but I think he’s got some limitations. We’ll wait to see how fast he runs at the Combine, but I think third round is the earliest he’ll be taken.