It is not a secret that the Green Bay Packers drastically underachieved at the safety position. The Packers have been attempting to replace the three-time Pro Bowler Nick Collins. He went down with a career-ending neck injury during the Week 2 game of the 2011 season. Since then, the Packers have been missing Collins’ playmaking ability sorely.
The current starters, Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings, have not been able to achieve success at the position. Burnett is a third-round pick form Georgia Tech and will be in his fifth season with the Packers. Prior to the 2013 season, he was given a lucrative contract in hopes that he would become a leader on the Packers’ defense. He was a major disappointment during the 2013 season, and did not live up to the expectations. Jennings will be in his fourth season and was an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas State. Jennings is best know for his role in the “Fail Mary” against the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. He clearly had intercepted a pass that was called a touchdown, controversially, to end the game and give the Seahawks the win. Jennings seems to have a poor understanding of the Packers’ defense and is a very poor tackler. The overall lack of big plays, poor tackling and atrocious coverage have been unacceptable.
In order to upgrade this position, the Packers need to draft a safety. If the following players are still available in the draft, they need to use their 21st pick and select either Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Clinton-Dix, whose first name is really Ha’Sean, could come in and drastically improve the Packers’ pass defense. He is also a very effective safety when it comes to run defense. Clinton-Dix is 6-feet tall and weighs 210 pounds. The 21-year-old played college football for three season at Alabama. Clinton-Dix chose to forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He is very good at reading an offense and reacts to it quickly. He also has the speed and flexibility to cover a slot wide receiver or tight end if necessary. Clinton-Dix has good hands and takes direct angles to the ball. He is also a very secure tackler and has been coached in a pro style defense at Alabama.
This is why he could come in and make an immediate impact for the Packers. Clinton-Dix does lack some size and plays a bit too conservatively at times, but this is something that could be changed with NFL coaching. He has shown playmaking ability, as he had two big interceptions late in the 2012 season for Alabama. The first was in the SEC championship game against Georgia and the second was in the national championship game against Notre Dame.
Pryor may need a little bit more grooming for the NFL, but he could certainly make an immediate impact in Green Bay. He is 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds and played three years for Louisville. Pryor is a very physical player with good instincts. He sacrifices his body when necessary and is a defensive tempo-setter, something the Packers have been lacking. Pryor has good zone recognition and is widely seen as the most violent hitter in the draft. He is also an explosive tackler who did show some playmaking ability with seven career interceptions. Pryor has been known to take bad angles to the ball and also does not play very well in man coverage. With those last two things being said, I think the positives exceed the negatives and Pryor can bring some terrific potential to the Packers’ defense.
We all know that draft day is chaos, and these two may not even be available. Most projections have at least one, if not both, still available for the Packers at the 21st draft position. The Packers could always make a move and trade up in the draft. Green Bay desperately needs to land a draft pick that becomes a top playmaker for the future. I hope to see Clinton-Dix in a Packer uniform, but either one of these players would make me happy.