Packers 2014 NFL Draft: Day 1 Grade and Analysis

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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
New Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix holds up a jersey after being selected in the 2014 NFL draft.

With linebackers C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier off the board, the Packers used the 21st pick in Thursday’s NFL draft to take free safety Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix and hopefully provide a long overdue boost to the safety position.

Ever since Nick Collins’ career ended in early 2011, the Packers have plugged in the likes of Charlie Peprah, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian at safety with disastrous results. Can Clinton-Dix help end the long-running nightmare for the Packers at safety?

He very well could. I didn’t have any safeties rated as first-rounders in this year’s draft, but with the aforementioned linebackers off the board and general manager Ted Thompson not trading down, Clinton-Dix was the most logical selection.

After the Packers took Clinton-Dix, other safeties came off the board. Deonne Bucannon and Jimmie Ward — originally pegged as possible day-two targets for the Packers — were taken by Arizona and San Francisco, respectively.

Obviously, several teams had first-round grades on a number of safeties. Good thing Thompson and the Packers snatched up Clinton-Dix when they did.

What they’re saying:

“But the chips fell into place for the Packers, who headed into Thursday with a need at safety, and left it with a prospect who had top-10 talent. Clinton-Dix should be a Day 1 starter for Green Bay.” – Chris Burke (via SI.com)

“How long have we been saying the Packers needed to find their next big-play safety? At least since the end of last season, if not earlier. The only NFL team that did not get a single interception from a safety in 2013, the Packers have finally made a move to replace Nick Collins, who hasn’t played since his Packers career ended with his neck injury in Week 2 of the 2011 season.” – Rob Demovsky (via PackersNews.com)

“I’m very good on the post. I’m very good covering, helping out, double-teaming, whatever the case may be, I’m good at doing it. Like I said, when I get in there and learn that playbook and be comfortable and relax in myself and be consistent, I think I’ll be fine and help the Green Bay Packers win.” –Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (via JSOnline)

“It fit very well for us filling need and having best player available. We felt he was best player on board.” – Ted Thompson (via Packersnews.com)

Who was on the board at No. 21:

Bucannon and Ward were still out there, but most people had them rated below Clinton-Dix. Michigan St. cornerback Dequeze Dennard was another option, but he’s under 6-feet and the Packers typically don’t take corners unless they’re 6 feet or taller.

Even though the Packers could use a tight end, taking Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro or Troy Niklas over Clinton-Dix probably would not have been the wisest move.

This year’s draft is stacked with talented wide receivers. If the Packers want to bolster their pass-catchers, they should be able to do so with a guy like Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews or Martavis Bryant on day two.

The Packers had plenty of options at No. 21 and ended up taking a player who hopefully will fill a desperate need on the back end of the defense.

Why they went with Clinton-Dix:

Did you want to see yet another year of god-awful safety play from the Packers?

Of course, we don’t know if Clinton-Dix will solve all of the Packers’ safety problems, but something needed to be done. I thought Thompson might trade down or take another defensive lineman with the 21st pick and snag a safety on day two. Well, he didn’t make a trade and he pulled the trigger on Clinton-Dix.

If Thompson would have waited to get a safety, two good ones in Bucannon and Ward would have been off the board.

The Packers hope Clinton-Dix can do two things:

1. Start right away and play well (obviously)
2. Boost the play of Morgan Burnett

With a young and talented partner back there, perhaps Burnett sees the light and lives up to the contract extension he signed last offseason.

And if he doesn’t, Micah Hyde could end up getting a turn at safety.

Either way, a defenisve backfield that features Clinton-Dix, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Hyde and a returning Casey Hayward is plenty to get excited about.

Day 1 Grade: A?

How do you grade a draft pick two hours after it’s made? It’s silly.

But if you’re going to make me assign a grade, it has to be an “A,” right?

The Packers desperately needed a safety. Clinton-Dix was the best safety on the board and maybe even the best player overall still available. The Packers selected him.

That’s worth an “A” for now. Check back in three years and I’ll let you know if that “A” still stands.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • Cow42

    “Good thing Thompson and the Packers snatched up Clinton-Dix when they did.”

    Or they could have made the move that AZ did… got extra picks and drafted Bucannon.

    Packers sure better hope Dix is better than Bucannon.

    • Sven

      Who was trying to trade up to the Packers spot? Arizona wasbahead of the Packers and by the end of the first round the top four safeties were gone could the packers have traded down and still stayed in the first?

      • Cow42

        “Who was trying to trade up to the Packers spot?” Ummmm – THE SAINTS.

        If they were willing to go to 20, they would have gone to 21.

        Instead the move was made with AZ… who then used #26 on Bucannon.

        Not that hard to figure out, bro.

        • Dobber

          So you were manning the phones for the Packers, Cow? How do you know the Packers phone ever rang in that case?

          • BradHTX

            Dobber, why do you even bother? LOL

            • Dobber

              There’s a long time between now and the next Packer pick. Gotta do something to entertain myself! ;)

    • Oppy

      I guess every team that picked before any other team “sure better hope” the guy they picked is better than all the other guys picked after them.

      Get a grip for the love of god, man!

      The pick has been made. The ONLY thing the Packers need to hope for is that Haha turns into a productive player for them who helps the Packers win football games…for years to come.

      If there is any Barry Sanders lamenting you feel like you still need to get off your chest, by all means, seek the help of a professional therapist. This website probably has a statute of limitations on ridiculous belly-aching over what ifs and manufactured drama.

      • Cow42

        Not every team had the chance to pick up an extra pick while at the same time drafting a player equal to/better than the one they stayed and drafted.

        • Oppy

          You know what, with all of your crystal ball certainty, it sounds like it’s YOU who “Sure better hope” that Haha isn’t nearly as good as Buchannon.

          Just Sayin.

        • Anonymous

          The Packers used every second on the clock to make a deal. There isn’t time to call all 31 other teams. Just because you want to make a deal with another team dosen’t mean they want to trade with you.

          • Archie

            Oh there was a deal on the table. Did you notice the teams picking one pick before the Pack and one pick after the Pack both traded out? No, TT wanted Dix or he felt the chances were high that all three remaining top S would be gone before he picked again.

            • Ed Schoenfeld

              Which would fit with Ted’s ‘he was on the top of our board.’

              Re the trades, Saints traded up for a WR in part because of rumors that GB wanted a receiver. Arizona clearly felt OK with Buchanon (3rd safety) plus the extra pick (3rd round) they got.

              Trade for GB was once again would have been with the Browns, but you will notice that after browns picked Manziel the next 4 picks including Eagles were on defense. No way Clinton-Dix is on the board fro GB at 26 after that run.

  • Sven

    In Ted I trust…but i sure hope this works out. I hope Clinton-dix would fall to the packers when the linebackers were off the board, but i worry about his speed. Nick Collins was really fast. C-D runs a 4.58.

    Even though I was excited to see Hyde at sadety, we had a true need at that position. Even if we got a 1st round ILB, I would be leary of having that player start day one. In the Packers system ILB does more than run and tackle, he identifies and maes calls.

    • Oppy

      For what its worth, you’re not going to find too many safeties that were as fast as Nick Collins… His speed and quickness (AKA Range) was truly special and only one or two other safeties in the last decade had comparable physical talent in that regard.

      It probably isn’t fair or wise to expect the Packers to just go out and find another Nick Collins. But we definitely needed to improve at the position, and hopefully we’ve done that.

      Also FWIW, scouts almost universally consider Dix to have extremely good range and say he plays much faster than he clocks in on the 40.

      • Sven

        You are right. Collins was very special, and there is no reason to doubt Dix.

        No matter who they picked or how they might have traded, I would have fretted over it.

        Ha-Ha looks to be a great choice for value and need. Thanks you some sound in put.

  • Cow42

    Beating the Bears wk 17 cost the Packers Shazier.

    Not worth it.

    • Since ’61

      Now that’s a good way to play during the season. Lose a chance to make the playoffs and possibly go to the Super Bowl for a pick in the next draft that you don’t know will be there, or who may be a whiff if you get him or who may get hurt and never play a down in the NFL. That makes about as much sense as all your other comments. The point of the draft is to build a team to make the playoffs and win the SB, yet you suggest losing a game to stay out of the playoffs for a draft pick. Why draft at all? Interesting planet that you live on! Thanks, Since ’61

  • Turophile

    A classic Ted pick, need meets (arguably) best available guy left.

    With ILBs Shazier and Mosely gone, S Pryor too, it makes sense.

    I am guessing NT DaQuan Jones will be pick 2, but I also expect the chance of getting that right is equivalent to finding a snowball in Hell.

  • Big T

    That had to be hard for TT… picking a hard hitting sure tackling safety. He usually prefers the limp wristed type.

  • http://grizzlymitch@bresnan.net grizzlymitch

    Certain “A” grade. What more could we have asked for? Safety and linebacker were our top needs. I have my eye on the tight end from Notre Dame in the second round. We need a guy to block for Lacy. There are only a few inside linebackers left worth a second round pick.

    • Archie

      Certainly a logical pick. Whether it is an A as you believe or a B as I think, will depend on how he actually plays.

      I’m with you on Niklas!

      • http://grizzlymitch@bresnan.net grizzlymitch

        Agree, but the question comes to grade day one a day after the draft. With Dix, Hayward and Hyde, yeoch, we go from pathetic to possibly very strong.

  • barutanseijin

    Cow, beating the bears is always worth it. Besides, Shazier or whoever may very well may be a draft whiff.

  • Big T

    What round are we drafting the Iowa tight end?

    • Rossoneri83

      I’m hoping the Packers use one of their 3rd rd picks on CJ Fiedorowicz of Iowa.

  • Rossoneri83

    Super pick! Best player available and addressed an urgent need. I had given up any hope of landing Pryor or Clinton-Dix, so I’m very happy with this pick. I don’t care about Shazier, I don’t care about trading down, to those armchair GMs, SHUT UP. You were probably whaling then Ted chose Nick Collins out of Bethune-Cookman. Clinton-Dix comes from the top program and best coach in the country. Well done Ted!

    • Archie

      Just when we all thought we lived in a free country with the freedom of speech, it turns out that this guy thinks the internet is only expressing opinions similar to his. Quite amusing.

      • Jay

        He’s expressing his equally-entitled opinion that the stated criticisms of HCD pick are bogus. Because, ya know, free speech.

      • Big T

        Free speach and Free country ended when obammy took office. Everyone knows that…

    • SchenySchen

      Actually, it’s really hard to perform “whaling” since Wisconsin is a freshwater, inland state, with no oceanfront. I think he may have been “wailing”……

  • Archie

    It was disheartening to watch Fuller and Shazier leave the board at 14-15. However I was happy when CJ Mosley followed them because I think his health is that dubious. That left Pryor and Dix and Pryor went next.

    Dix is not Nick Collins nor is he Earl Thomas or Eric Berry. I’m not even sure if he’s better than the S taken a few picks later, Buchannon and Ward. Teams on either side of GB took trade offers to move down 5 or so picks and pick up a R3 pick. I’m surprised TT didn’t do that. AZ, picking one spot ahead of the Pack took preferred the R3 pick and either Buchannon/Ward to Dix. I think I would have done the same. Ted usually makes that trade so either he liked Dix significantly more than Buchannon/Ward or he believed all three could go before he picked again.

    Either way, Dix is our guy and the night was a bit of a yawn. He certainly fits a need and should be a solid starter from day one, though probably not a blue chipper.

    With the need at S finally addressed, and with ILB not giving 2nd value, our R2 pick should be much more interesting and much more difficult to predict, even in real time, as the possibilities are quite great.

    Since Marcus Smith was grabbed in R1, he won’t be our pick at 53. I also don’t believe TT will double dip at S. And I don’t see a QB this high. It won’t be a RB either. OL can’t be ruled out but it seems highly unlikely. So that leaves us with WR, TE, DL and CB.

    WR – great chance for a really good one to fall: Lee, Latimer, Matthews, Robinson, Moncrief, Adams etc.

    TE – I hope Amaro and ASJ last as long as possible, thereby increasing the chances that Niklas is still there at pick 53.

    DL – Jernigan should go next. And then maybe Nix. After that Tuitt and Hageman. I doubt any of these make it to 53. Ego Ferguson is a realistic possibility at 53.

    CB – There are several, including Desir and John-the-Baptist. There will be value here.

    But the prediction is WR or TE. I believe ND TE Troy Niklas is a TT/MM type player. He’s a bit of a throwback but he is plenty athletic and fast enough too. A genuine 2-way TE. Then there is TT’s historical strength, R2 WRs. It is very likely we are headed for another, which would be fine with me. 3 WRs is at least one too few. If we go WR I sure would like to see TT trade a 3 and a 4 to move up higher in R3 if Niklas falls that far. Both a WR and a TE on day 2 would excite the hell out of me, especially if that TE = Troy Niklas.

    • Sven

      Great analysis. Though I think you are underselling Dix abit, though who knows until he plays.

    • Ed Schoenfeld

      Niklas is someone to hope for at 53. I think we will se trader ted in action if Niklas doesn’t fall.

  • Razer

    The first round worked out fairly well. The second and third rounds are the money rounds in this draft. Here’s hoping that we can snag a Jordan Matthews, Louis Nix, Richburg or similar talents. We could walk away with 3 more studs before day 3.

  • Since ’61

    Archie – some very good analysis. I am not the draftnik that many of my fellow bloggers are here, but I think that TT took Dix because he was the only safety remaining that was graded as a first round safety. He may have tried to trade the pick or he may have believed that Dix and the other safeties would be gone by the time he could pick in R2. In any event, we have upgraded our safety position. We will probably see Burnett and Hyde start but I wouldn’t mind seeing Hyde and Dix at some point in the season. I would not discount the possibility for TT to pick up another DB/S for depth in the later rounds as well. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  • GBPDAN

    I give the pick an A,

  • Big T

    It is going to be great having Eddie Murphy’s son in the Packers backfield!

  • Ted’s Smarter Brother

    Best 1st round pick since Matthews by TT. Great value at a position of need. I think it is funny that the guy is rated top 10 at the end of the season and after a less than ‘blazing’ 40 time he drops in perceived value.

    The thing about HHCD is that he will be a great leader in the secondary. He has a very high football IQ and his help will improve the play of the entire secondary.

    In a few years, the likes of ‘Big T’ will be saying that TT got lucky that HHCD fell in his lap and it was a ‘no brainer’.

    • Cow42

      “Best 1st round pick since Matthews by TT.”

      Not super high praise if you think about it.

  • Magic

    Is anyone else excited about round 2? Stay where we are at 53, but also package some picks and get ahead in this round. Tuitt and Hageman have to be day 2 targets along with Van Noy Niklas or ASJ. If we get 2 of those 5 by 9pm tonight I’m laying my Vegas bets on the Pack.

  • http://allgbp.com Thegreatreynoldo

    Archie may have found it a bit of a yawn, but I was getting very, very nervous that Mosley, Shazier, Pryor and Dix would ALL be gone by #21. Grade A- at this point. A had GB gotten either LB or Pryor, and an A+ if Barr or someone like that had fallen. As far as trading down, presumably to #26, looks like Dix would have been gone since CBs Verett and Dennard (and Dee Ford, a 3rd defensive player) were taken, and I have Bucannon and Ward with 2nd and 2/3 Rd grades. I thought it was time to pull the trigger but time will tell.

  • http://butlerrf@msn.com old time packer fan

    I think Dix was a great pick @ 21. Everyone seemed to agree we need defense help & LB or Safety were the biggest positions. I can recall a few months back when all I saw on the reply’s for the draft were that Dix would be a great pick if we could get him. About half the guys picked in the 1st round will turn out to be mediocre, just look at our results. He’s a quality player from a top football factory, should work out well for us.
    Now we need to address getting the best receiver available & fill in with “potentials” at other positions. The packers do well in drafting late round players.