How interesting would it be for Green Bay Packers rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in his football career? He played for the Alabama Crimson Tide in college, one of the most beloved football schools in America. Every college has a fan base, but it’s not hard to see that Alabama football fans are a rare breed.
Packers fans are the same way.
Every NFL team has a following of smart fans, die-hard fans, and generic fans, but the Packers have that ‘Title Town’ thing going for them. Green Bay loves football, because football is all Green Bay has. Not unlike in Alabama with the Crimson Tide.
For Green Bay’s part, they are getting a big safety with arguably the best range of any player at his position in the draft. Despite running barely under a 4.6 second 40 yard dash at the Scouting Combine, Clinton-Dix proved at Alabama that he plays faster, he has a nose for the football, and he can get his hands on it.
What does Clinton-Dix bring to the table as a safety? He’s a guy who brought a ton of hype to Alabama, and delivered with a solid, but not stellar career. It was good enough to make him a first round selection, and there’s not a lot about his game that I didn’t like.
He catches the ball well, he has good length, he has good overall bulk. He doesn’t miss a lot of tackles, and he has great range. He can play center field, he can cover a slot receiver.
In essence, he’s a phenomenal fit for a Packers defense that was in desperate need of more playmakers. That’s why they signed Julius Peppers to boost the pass rush, a move that is pretty out of character for a team that doesn’t oft throw itself into the free agency mix.
Green Bay has not been averse to using first round picks in recent years on the defensive side of the ball. Dating back to 2012, they’ve taken Nick Perry, Datone Jones, and now Clinton-Dix to fortify that side of the ball. You don’t have to look very far to find other guys who were top picks for the defense. In 2009, they drafted B.J. Raji, who was just re-signed this offseason. They also drafted Clay Matthews in 2009. A.J. Hawk was a first rounder in 2006.
And Clinton-Dix may have the highest upside of them all. With a complete skill set, versatility, and a championship college pedigree, I think this kid is ready to come into the NFL and work hard to earn a starting job as a rookie, or at least be the Packers’ top reserve defensive back.
It will be interesting to see how they use him in year one, if he’ll be prominently featured in their defensive plans, but I feel like this is a player who has excellent potential and can be a star in the NFL.