By Alex Kozora
With the regular season over, our focus has shifted to the offseason. For the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on prospects. Some the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and other top players that will be off the board before the Steelers select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Our first look at a defensive back. Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
HaHa Clinton Dix/S Alabama: 6’1 208
– Looks the part, fills out his frame well
– Supreme length and bulk for the position
– Vicious hitter
– Long strider
– Excellent closing speed
– Seems to embrace playing the run
– Overall, sure tackler
– Does flash hip flexibility, ability to change directions in coverage
– Played against top competition
– Used on kickoff units, even in senior year
– Used in variety of ways, from coverage to in the box, also blitzed
– Toughness, played through injury
– Inconsistent tape
– Will have trouble shedding blocks, even against smaller wide receivers
– Can get over-aggressive, take self out of plays
– Will disappear, have poor games
– Lacked impact plays in games I watched, didn’t cause a turnover and didn’t recover a fumble
– More quick than fast
– Statistically regressed in 2013 compared to 2012
– Minor character concerns, was suspended
– 21 career starts
– Only two interceptions in 2013, one coming in blowout win over Arkansas
– Did not force a fumble in 2013
– Had 5 INTs and a FF in 2012
– 2013 First Team Coaches All-SEC
– Suspended for two games in 2013 after accepting $500 from assistant coach
– Underwent surgery on meniscus after this past year, played in bowl game with it
– 5 star athlete coming out of high school
– First name is “Ha’Sean”
– Grandmother started calling him “HaHa” (spelled with no space, capital “H”)
A quick aside. Also as I’ve written, I don’t feel as I’m strong evaluating DBs as other positions. Don’t practice it as much. Take that for what it’s worth. Stated I aim to be transparent. So need to say that up front.
Clinton-Dix has a lot of Ryan Clark in him. Extremely physical and while he doesn’t throw his body around as violently as Clark has, it’s still impressive. Love that Clinton-Dix enjoys playing against the run. Certainly does not shy away from contact.
Good angle to the runner and he finished with a big hit.
And he’ll lay the lumber in coverage, too.
Can see some of his other traits. Excellent build and lengthy. Covers a lot of ground in a hurry. Helps him close quickly.
Although I will point out a few misses, he is a reliable tackler. Makes the open field tackler against the receiver attempting to cut back. Tough to do with momentum working against you.
Gets to the edge in a hurry and wraps up the runner on 3rd and 12.
On the negative, we’ll start with some aspects that can’t be shown on tape. Watched four of the tougher games out there and he didn’t make a single “splash” play. Did have big hits but didn’t record an interception, force a fumble, or recover one. Want my safeties to be able to do more in that department. Especially for a Steelers’ defense that was starving for turnovers. As noted, just two interceptions on the season for HaHa.
The suspension is also a nasty black mark though isn’t as bad as it seems. Accepting money is obviously illegal and he was justly suspended but it’s unlikely NFL teams are concerned over the incident. He will get asked about it but provided he accepts responsibility, his draft stock should not dip.
The first game of his I watched came against Auburn. And it was awful. Completely disappeared. Recorded just one tackle. Was pushed around by smaller receivers and could not shed.
The front half of a play from above.
And later in the game
Missed a critical tackle that led to a big run. Little hard to see him but he comes into frame part way through. #6 for Bama.
His aggression can get the best of him sometimes. Either by being reckless and playing out of control or taking poor angles. Clips of the former and then the latter.
Bites on the window dressing and can’t get in position to cut off the dive.
Partially, if not fully, responsbole for allowing Auburn to tie the SEC Championship game. Drives on the quarterback instead of smartly sitting in coverage, up by seven late in the game. Lets the receiver gets behind him and walk into the end zone. Did not respond well to a high-pressure moment.
Makes the tackle here but does not take the best of angle to the receiver. Too sharp and ends up trailing.
Judging his ability in coverage is difficult – I’ve commented how the TV broadcast can make it very difficult to evaluate traits like that. But even for a big safety, he seems to flip his hips well. Not very stiff. Shows it working against this post.
Of course, The drop is disappointing.
Clinton-Dix profiles as an in-the-box strong safety who will lead by example with his tenacity against the run. Traits the Steelers always look for. Coaching to help him settle down and better read his keys will improve the mental aspect where he currently struggles.
But do the Steelers need a strong safety in the first round? It would be nice to have an “heir” to Troy Polamalu, who may be entering his final year, but with the other concerns, can you afford that luxury? Debatable.
Would I mock Clinton-Dix to the Steelers? Unlikely. But I wouldn’t stamp my feet about the selection either. The Steelers could use some more nasty on their side.
Projection: Mid-Late 1st
Games Watched: at Virginia Tech, vs LSU, at Auburn, vs Oklahoma (Bowl)
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller