Packers Rookie Tape Watch: Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Mike McGinnis

Acme Packing Company breaks down game film on the Packers' first-round pick.

With OTAs starting, we’ll keep rolling with our Packers rookie film sessions and today I will be sharing my scouting report one one of my favorite prospects in this past year’s class: Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Workout Profile

School: Alabama
Year: Junior
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 208 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.58s
3-Cone: 7.16
Vertical: 33"

Scouting Report

The draft class this year featured instinctive, ball-hawking, and hard-hitting prospects in the top half of prospects. Four safeties (!) went in the first-round of the draft, which was rather unexpected. After the St. Louis Rams selected Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald and NFC North rival Chicago drafted Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, Calvin Pryor of Louisville was the first man at the position to be taken off the board by the New York Jets at 18. It was a bit shocking considering Clinton-Dix was the highest-rated player at the position by most scouts and draft gurus. One thing we obviously know about general manager Ted Thompson is that he’s tremendous at obtaining value picks, and he proved that once again getting his guy at pick 21.

Before the draft started, I spent a lot of time watching Clinton-Dix’s tape anticipating the possibility he would fall to Green Bay, and even though he didn’t jump out to me at first, with due time, he easily became the clear-cut best prospect from Alabama who came out this year.

Alabama has produced several first-round defensive backs in recent years ranging from Tampa’s Mark Barron to just last year when the Jets selected Dee Milliner. In Nick Saban’s 3-4 defense, Clinton-Dix mostly played in the deep middle and slot during his sophomore year, but during his junior year Saban trusted him more and lined him up left or right, along with having him play in the box. He thrived tremendously in his increased role, becoming the most consistent player on the Crimson Tide defense along with fellow first-rounder C.J. Mosley.

Here are a few quick clips that show a few of the things Ted Thompson probably raised his eyebrows at.

During the 2012 season, he led the SEC conference in interceptions, and followed that up by showing the ability to play center field and flashed elite ball skills the preceding year. I want to backpedal a bit first and show this clip from the BCS National Championship game just to show what I mean:

Now let’s look at one of his clips from 2013 in which he displays another one of his strengths in being able to perform in man-coverage against slot receivers. Plus, showing his great range. (In the clip, he's the one moving up before the ball is snapped.)

Clinton-Dix's ability to play like a center fielder is excellent, and he really can cover a lot of ground since he’s so quick and instinctive. You have to love the hard-hitting aggressiveness he plays with, too; that can really mesh with guys like Clay Mathews and Julius Peppers.

Overall, his strengths certainly outweigh his weaknesses by a mile, but a concern for him is his lack of elite speed, and sometimes, he can be a bit too aggressive when attacking -- causing him to whiff and miss some easy open-field tackles. Right now he can probably add some bulk and get stronger as well. Still, he’s practically a sure-thing when it comes to tackling, and one of the biggest things I noticed about him on tape that I loved if that he’s very decisive, and knows where he wants to go to attack while getting there pretty fast.

Right now you can practically supplant him alongside Morgan Burnett atop the depth chart. He’s expected to be the Day 1 starter and have some type of impact right away this season. Last year we saw two rookie safeties in Matt Elam and Eric Reid start immediately, and both of them produced solid first seasons. With all of them coming from SEC’s schools, I definitely think Clinton-Dix is capable of contributing right away, too. Barron and Milliner haven't played like everyone expected, but Ha Ha's expectations shouldn't be as high as theirs, since they were both top-10 picks. Furthermore, I expect to see his range and cover skills that he displayed in college, and the thing I am looking forward to the most with him is how he will match up physically against the receivers within the division in his rookie year.

For a comparison, Bucky Brooks of NFL Network compared Clinton-Dix to New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle.

In the end, these were the main things that I noted while watching his tape: Green Bay got really good value getting Clinton-Dix at 21, and I think his skills will translate and he’ll put together a finger lickin’ good rookie campaign as a starter.

(Ed.: You should be able to click and drag to zoom in/out of the embedded GIFs.)

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