Feb 25, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals defensive back Calvin Pryor runs the 40 yard dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears: Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?


There is no question safety and defensive tackle are primary needs for the Chicago Bears.  However, with limited depth beyond the first round will they be better off getting their safety early and if so should they go with Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?

Chris Conte injury and ineptitude makes Clinton-Dix popular

All any Bears fan can think about when bringing up 2013 is that fateful final play at Soldier Field in which Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb inexplicably found himself wide open for the game-winning touchdown on 4th and 8.  The play cost the Chicago Bears the playoffs for the second-straight season and primary culprit responsible for the debacle was free safety Chris Conte who failed to get the needed defensive call and let Cobb get past him for the score.  It ended a rather forgettable season for the third-year player and sparked a series of calls by fans to have him and in fact the entire secondary replaced.  That is why safety is so high in demand for the Chicago Bears defense.  It’s no surprise Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is among the top targets.

Scouts believe the Alabama free safety is the best at his position in the NFL draft.  He has that coveted fluidity and range to make great breaks on the football coupled with the instincts to know where it’s going by reading the quarterback.  He has the bulk to handle tackling and the length to cover the big tight ends.  By that same token he does occasionally lapse in coverage due to shoddy technique, especially against play action.  It’s something to be expected from a young safety that can be cleaned up with more work.

Pro Comparison:  Louis Delmas

Chicago Bears fans will cringe when hearing the name Louis Delmas given what the Detroit Lions had to go through.  However, the best thing to do is think of Clinton-Dix as Delmas without the knee problems.  When health Delmas was an instinctive, physical leader in the Lions secondary who always seemed to elevate the play of everybody around him.  Ha Ha has a chance to do the very same to whichever team picks him.

Pryor more talented than Ryan Mundy

Strong safety may actually be in more trouble than free depending on who you ask.  Former starter Major Wright departed in free agency for TampaBay.  Before that, like Conte, he struggled most of the 2013 season both in coverage and supporting the run.  To that end GM Phil Emery brought in a host of bodies to compete for the safety jobs but his biggest addition was Ryan Mundy.  A 29-year old veteran, he had the chance to learn behind greats like Troy Polamalu and Antrel Rolle before getting a significant chance to play with the New York Giants last year.  In nine starts he posted 77 tackles, a sack and an interception.  Despite the label he carries as a career backup, Emery believe he has the athleticism and toughness to start at strong safety.

That is condition of course on whether the Chicago Bears decide to add more competition or not.  While free safety is his tagged position, Louisville standout Calvin Pryor has all the characteristics of a strong.  His biggest calling cards include tackling, delivering a fierce hit and blitzing.  These he does extremely well thanks to his excellent athleticism, speed and toughness.  Yet most scouts believe his coverage ability is trending up fast, which could signal him as a hybrid type who can play free or strong.

Pro Comparison:  Earl Thomas

Very similar tags were put on Seattle Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas when he came out of Texas.  From there a keen focus and relentless work ethic turned him into perhaps the best defensive player in football.  If Pryor is willing to put in that same commitment there is no reason he can’t reach similar heights.

Conclusion:

At this point most would say that it’s really hard for the Chicago Bears to miss regardless of who they take in the first round of the NFL draft.  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor both have great upside and should have productive pro careers.  It merely comes down to who will be better.  So what do you think?

Tags: Calvin Pryor Chicago Bears Christ Conte Earl Thomas Ha Ha Clinton-dix Louis Delmas Ryan Mundy

  • Chris Wyman

    If you want Mike Tyson you take Calvin Pryor if you want someone you’ve seen a million times you take Ha Ha. I take Mike Tyson and knock you out if it’s me. #LionsFan

    • Erik Lambert

      We’re in agreement, Chris. Pryor has better upside to me.

  • Jeremiah Collins

    In this draft, I would trade down. Twice if need be to acquire more picks. My first round pick after those intro of moves would be to take Deon Bucannon. Every pick is a gamble, and the are no sure . things. With that being said, and the additional picks to be spent in every round, I do believe that the bears will acquire the talent necessary to Shuffle again.

    • Erik Lambert

      Bucannon is so intriguing. Ton of potential. If they did trade back he would be one of my picks.

      • joe

        Bucannon is gonna be the real deal. I want him on the eagles cause he has that Dawkins attitude and similar play. Dawkins was a late 2nd round pick himself also.

        • Erik Lambert

          The Bears have visited with him extensively. If he’s there in the second, they’re taking him.

      • Jake

        You would take Buchanan in the late first if we traded down twice like Jeremiah said? I would rather see them trade down twice and get nix or a cb then use one or two of the later round picks to trade up in the second for bucannon like we did Jeffrey in. 2012 and then I really hope we draft Stanley Jean baptiste he has Richard Sherman written all over him huge fast athletic and former reciever ! But please SJB come without the mouth cuz u won’t be covering mediocre receivers like Crabtree this is the NFC north where the big boys play like Alshon b marsh megatron Jennings Cobb Nelson (piss off lions fans Nate burlesque is better than golden Tate and 5 times the person whatta class act)

        • Erik Lambert

          Actually in my mock draft I have them trading back to #30, then trading up to #28 to get Hageman, and then Bucannon falls to them at #51 because Jimmie Ward fell past Washington at #34. SJB is an intriguing specimen for sure but you have to be careful but he might not quite be the athlete Sherman is.

          • bobportcharlotte

            I would love this scenario of yours! Hageman and Bucannon would be terrific!

          • Erik Lambert

            I agree.

    • metalhead65

      right trade down and once again settle for the guys almost as good as the top rated ones. the bears have picked those guys the last 10 years and have gotten the major wright’s and conte’s plus a bunch of guys whose names I can’t remember. for once I would rather they gamble on the best and if they don’t work out at least they did not settle for the just as good or a notch below guy.

      • Jeremiah Collins

        If you actually watch the tapes on these players, instead of looking at mocks, you would understand that Clinton Dix doesn’t like to tackle, Pryor is ok in coverage and will be a liability in the league because of the penalties he’ll draw, and Bucannon likes to tackle, brings the wood, and is pretty good in coverage to. Also add the additional picks for the numerous other needs we haven’t addressed, like corner, and te… And thus is a win win scenario. There are no guarantees in any draft, but the ability to find plug and play guys is always a find with the more shots you take at it. Who saw Sherman, who knew Brady would be Brady… Follow the Ryan Leaf formula all you want, but Kyle Long wasn’t a household name last year.

        • metalhead65

          right like fans watch tape and if you do please get a life! most do however watch the games and can pretty much tell who can play the game or not. if you have ever put on a helmet and cleats and you know actually played the game you can tell if a guy can tackle or not. in the case of dix he can. whether he likes to or not has no bearing on if he can,doesn’t matter how hard he hits as he makes it as long as he does make the tackle. I doubt you were one of those people who applauded the long pick last year like me. did I know that much about him? no all I knew was the bears had a need on the o-line and he grabbed the best one left whether the experts liked him or not. in the case of dix he is good enough he might not even be there when the bears draft but if he is they need to take him. follow the formula of bears drafts past when it comes to the secondary and you will get the same results. I for 1 am tired of it and want them to grab the best if he is there, if he does not pan out it won’t be because he was another just as good guy.

  • Kevin

    Give the bashing of Conte a break….I’d like to see those of you whom have probably never worn a jock, be in Conte’s position last year! He and Wright had to play safety, linebacker and half the time, defensive line….you weasels who bash him constantly, wouldn’t have made it to mid-season! Secondly: Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha, Ha Ha….anyone want to hear that for the next 10 years? What kind of moron runs around being called Ha Ha?

    • Erik Lambert

      Personally I think Conte deserves another shot but I still feel they have to address the position early.

    • bobportcharlotte

      Kevin I love your post. It is both insightful and funny! I was the one bear fan who was glad the Bears lost that game to the Packers. I knew neither the Bears or the Packers would beat the 49ers in their first playoff game. The result was that the Packers lost to the 49ers and wound up with the 21st pick in this draft. The Bears in losing to the Packers won the 14th pick in this draft along with being positioned to draft ahead of the Packers in all of the subsequent rounds. So Conte’s error, though painful to most Bear fans, was really a good thing for the coming season when the Bears, minus injuries, should be a very serious contender for the Super Bowl!

      • Erik Lambert

        A very optimistic way to look at things, Bob. I too was happy we finally got a top 15 pick which we should in 2011 by losing the season finale to Minnesota rather than player to win and resulting in Urlacher shredding his knee.

        • bobportcharlotte

          I am just trying to be practical Erik, regarding the entire matter. This 14th pick could be very strategic depending upon who the Bears choose with it or if they use it to trade down for additional picks.

          • Erik Lambert

            The Bears are in good position regardless of what they do. Either they get an impact defender at #14 or trade back and take advantage of a deep class.

          • bobportcharlotte

            Amen Erik. Amen!

  • metalhead65

    I take dix. it’s nice pryer can hit but I want somebody who can hit and cover and that’s dix. plus playing for the tide and in the sec he has faced the best every week. who does louisville play? plus dix has the size you need playing the receivers that the bears will face in the NFC north.

    • Erik Lambert

      A fair argument, MH65. Dix is better in coverage but the thing I wonder about is that Pryor is just as good an athlete and scouts keep saying he’s improving in coverage. By that same token I don’t think Ha Ha will get much better as a hitter. So I wonder would you take the risk on Pryor knowing he’s already a great hitter and has a chance to get better in coverage?

      • metalhead65

        I don’t care how hard he hits as long as he makes the tackle. I am not sure how you can teach a guy to cover better if he can’t do it by now so I will take the guy who can cover over a heavy hitter who gets beat.

        • Hussien

          It’s not just about hard hitter. He’s a much better tackler as well. In the open field against a RB like Reggie Bush, Pryor would most likely bring him down, Clinton Dix doesn’t take the best angles on opponents.

    • Jake

      Alabama players scare me.. Look at all the “stars” coming from Nama i think u can find 6 or 7 rbs from Nama on the jets and saints and elsewhere that are just not addin up what scares me is are they that good or is the plethora of talent make them look as good as conte and wright looked in 2012

      • Erik Lambert

        The thing experts say is be wary of Bama players because they might actually already be maxed out because of how good the coaching is under Nick Saban. They might not have the upside others do.

  • Kirk Devries

    Trade back and pick up Ward or Buchanon. Chris Conte deserves a break/thank you. Much like Marion Barber, who helped us get rid of Jerry Angelo. Thanks Chris, were drafting 14 versus 22 cd. Our D line would have made Byrd look average at best. Conte will rebound.

    • Erik Lambert

      The key of course is finding somebody to trade back with. As far as I can see the Jets, Browns and 49ers are the best options and I think the Browns are a long shot. So the trade package better be good.

  • Jeremiah Collins

    This is a fun conversation metalhead, but if your really into anything, you look before you leap. It’s disrespectful for you to down play a persons opinion and tasteless also. If your asking about my opinion on Long, we agree, Emery addressed the issue. So let’s see. Dix is a cover safety. So is Bucannon. Check the tapes, and games if you like. They’re better than programmed tv, but I’m a football fan so that’s just me. Pryor is A Hitter, and so is Bucannon. Check him out before you downplay his ability. And with his selection later in the draft, with the additional picks we can Getty Pierre Desir, or Baptiste, and a Trent Murphy, and etc, plus a third, and another fourth..Man Bear Down and watch the show. Ex football player. I never played, But what does that have to do with mock drafting.

    • metalhead65

      it has to do with knowing what you are talking about. if you have played the game then you know if the guy is playing the game right. you have watched film and know what it means. you see what the guy did wrong and know why he did what he did on the play and not just wow he sucks and can’t play. there is still hope for conte if the guys up front do the job and he does not have to cover for 5 min. at a time and then turn into a linebacker like he did last year. didn’t mean to hurt your feelings and we just have to agree to disagree on this one. i happen to think dix is the better player and pryor looks good but at some point those hard hits are going to take their toll on his body just like they did on Mike Brown and sanders. dix is bigger and stronger and in the division the bears play in that will be a big help in covering the big receivers whoever they chose will have to cover,

      • Jeremiah Collins

        You must have replied on so many post you have me confused. I never wanted Pryor or Dix… And never mentioned Conte.

  • Johnathan Wood

    Jimmy Ward. He covers better than either player (much better in man coverage) and is a good tackler too. I honestly like him and Deone Buccanon better than either of the top 2, though Clinton-Dix is well above Pryor in my book.

    The Bears seem to like Pryor, so I hope I’m wrong if they end up drafting him, but I look at him and see Brandon Merriweather, who is not a good NFL safety.

    • Erik Lambert

      Merriweather doesn’t have the range Pryor does but I understand the comparisons. I’m wary of Ward not because of his ability but because of his smaller body and whether it can handle NFL level punishment. Several have said he looks more suited for corner. I would prefer Bucannon.

      • Johnathan Wood

        Ward reminds me a lot of Bob Sanders. If he can avoid the injury woes Sanders had, that’s a special player. But injuries are definitely a concern.

        • Erik Lambert

          I absolutely loved Bob Sanders. Bears fans would’ve seen a lot of Mike Brown in him. So much ability and leadership. Just couldn’t stay healthy. Is Ward worth the risk? In the first round I would say definitely not. At #51 I would accept it.

  • Nate Freeman

    During the season I was in the Dix camp (and still would be happy if the Bears get him). However, now I’m tending towards Pryor. I think his strengths (hitting and tackling) would be a better fit with this Bears defense trying to find an identity and would pair well with J Allen in helping to establish the identity of the next ten of Monsters of the Midway (a la Plank, Fencik, Bell,…) And for all the attention being given to free safety and passing defense, the run defense was a bigger problem. Pressure from the new DEs will help with the passing defense but to turn them loose its important to have a stopper backing them up that can make it statement! Particularly in a division with AD, Bush and Lacy.

  • chrisyygirl6218

    Trade up and get Dix. Conte needs the bench