During the Alabama football program’s recent run of dominance, more than a dozen of the Crimson Tide’s defenders have matriculated to the NFL, including numerous big-time players such as Dee Milliner, Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick, just to name a few. As good as all those players are, Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, who prefers to be known as Ha Ha, has a great shot to be the best defender who has come out of the school since Nick Saban took over the program in 2007.
Clinton-Dix, who will be entering his junior season, plays as a free safety for Alabama, but he has the skills to play either the free or strong spot in the NFL. He has a spectacular knack for making big plays, which was best showcased with his interception in the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame. He can sit back and play center field, but when he comes up, he is a force to be reckoned with and takes offensive players down like he’s fighting for his life.
Clinton-Dix has a spectacular skill set, and he’ll be just 20 years old for his entire junior season. As great as South Carolina‘s Jadaveon Clowney is, Clinton-Dix could put up a legitimate case for being the best college defender in the country in 2013, and he’s still getting better. It would be a shock if he is not a first-rounder in the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Has a good amount of experience with staying back and playing center field and is very effective in doing so.
- When he plays close to the line of scrimmage, does a great job of getting in on tackles.
- Speed and ability to take defenders down allow him to make plays in the backfield or downfield to save potential touchdowns.
- Has an exceptional knack for getting to the ball in coverage.
- Ferocious hitter, not afraid to knock people around.
- Very muscular build for a safety, has put on about 20 pounds since arriving at Alabama.
- Appears to be very well-spoken and intelligent, truly seems to have a passion for studying the game’s ins and outs.
- Takes some bad angles at times.
- Doesn’t have much experience covering receivers in man-to-man.
- Occasionally overpursues while blitzing.
- Tackles defenders by their legs at times, could be an issue against bigger, more physical running backs and receivers.
- Could stand to put on some more weight.
- Several Alabama players under Saban have topped out in college due to high level of coaching; must avoid that stigma as a professional.
Clinton-Dix will have an even more important role in the Crimson Tide defense’s success this year. With the defensive backfield having lost ballhawk Milliner, Clinton-Dix will be relied upon to make more big plays and continue to build upon the fantastic reputation that he developed last year in his first season as a full-time starter. Alabama is the obvious favorite to win the National Championship as the season begins, and Clinton-Dix will be a huge part of getting them there. If he stays on track with his development this year, Clinton-Dix will have the most upside of any free safety who has entered the NFL Draft since Ed Reed arrived in 2002.
2014 Draft Projection: First Round