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.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .