Miami Dolphins 2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Scouting Report
Free agency has yet to open, but with the NFL Scouting Combine now in the books all 32 teams have started the extensive process of filling out their draft boards.
For clubs like the Miami Dolphins, who have numerous needs to address on both sides of the ball, free agency could drastically affect their drafting strategy. For example, if the Dolphins are able to land one of the market's top left tackles, they will have the flexibility on draft day to address less pressing needs or take the best player available.
If tackles like Branden Albert and Eugene Monroe evade Miami's grasp, though, GM Dennis Hickey might not have a choice but to take the best available left tackle with pick No. 19. Assuming the Dolphins are able to nab protection for quarterback Ryan Tannehill's blindside during free agency, there are numerous players on both sides of the ball who could become the pick, including the top safety available.
From now until the draft begins, I'll be breaking down the scouting reports of some of the class' top prospects -- particularly those who would potentially be an ideal fit in Miami. The first installment of the series kicks off with Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Clinton-Dix is projected to be a first-round pick by most draft experts, but there is a decent chance he'll still be around when Miami is on the clock. Should the Dolphins invest the No. 19 overall selection on him this May? The following slideshow analyzes Clinton-Dix's measurables, strengths, weaknesses, film and his potential fit in Miami.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.
Collegiate Production and Measurables
Junior season: Named first-team All-SEC. Was a second-team All-American selection.
Sophomore season: Tied for first in SEC with five interceptions.
Freshman season: Dressed and played in every game.
Weight: 208 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.58
Bench press reps: 11
Vertical jump: 33.0
Broad jump: 119.0
Three-cone drill: 7.16
20-yard shuttle: 4.16
60-yard shuttle: 11.63
Clinton-Dix possesses ideal height for the safety position. He's an excellent athlete who has the ability to change directions and close on his target quickly. He has the range and instincts to patrol center field in coverage and to limit any leakage from the front seven.
However, he also has the physicality to play in the box if need be, with the tackling prowess to make a difference in run support. The versatility to play free or strong safety at the pro level is there, although he might be a more natural fit at free safety.
Unlike Chris Clemons, who started at free safety for the Dolphins in 2013, Clinton-Dix has adequate ball skills and had a knack for producing takeaways during his sophomore season at Alabama -- the year he was almost exclusively a free safety. The ability to play man coverage on tight ends and slot receivers is also there. He's an all-around safety who has Pro Bowl potential in the NFL.
Clinton-Dix is an aggressive safety who could develop into a ball-hawk at the next level, but that could be to his detriment if his learning curve proves to be steep. He was too aggressive at times in college, getting fooled by misdirection and play-action plays.
Although he was typically a sound tackler, there were times that he would attempt to lay a big hit on a ball-carrier while failing to wrap up. Clinton-Dix may need to bulk up some if he wants his ability to play in the box to translate to the NFL. He struggled to disengage from blocks at times when attempting to provide run support at Alabama.
Potential Fit in Miami
If a recent report by ESPN's James Walker is true, which claims that the Dolphins don't consider impending free safety Chris Clemons a "priority," Miami will be in the market for a new starter alongside Reshad Jones this offseason. Seeing as though Jairus Bryd -- the only obvious upgrade of the free-agent class -- is expected to re-sign with the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins may turn to May's draft to find Clemons' replacement.
There isn't a safety in the 2014 draft class who would fit the bill better than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The Alabama standout might not have the pure speed that Clemons has, but he possess the fluidity and instincts to be a difference-maker on the back end of Miami's defense. The Dolphins haven't had a ball-hawk in center-field for quite some time, and although Clinton-Dix wasn't a consistent one at Alabama, his ball skills are much more formidable than Clemons'.
The only problem with mocking him to Miami at pick No. 19 is that the Dolphins have more pressing needs along the offensive line that must be addressed at some point. If they can knock out at least one or two of the four positions they must replace up front in free agency, selecting Clinton-Dix would become a more realistic possibility in the first round.
I've maintained all offseason that Clemons is above average and warrants a multiyear deal if the Dolphins can't nab an surefire upgrade in free agency or the draft. Clinton-Dix is one of the few options who would project as an upgrade -- if not immediately then certainly long-term. The Dolphins should consider him with the No. 19 overall selection.