2014 NFL Draft: Packers earn A for picking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at No. 21

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Draft coverage: Draft picks and grades | Prospect Rankings | Mock drafts | News

NEW YORK -- With the 21st pick in the first round, the Packers select Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

If Louisville's Calvin Pryor is considered more of an in-the-box safety, Dix is the overall package. Listed at 6-1, 208 pounds, he has the fluidity, instincts and ball skills to man the deep third in passing situations, as well as the physicality to make plays in the run game near the line of scrimmage.

Still, despite the seven interceptions in 19 career starts, Dix doesn't come without questions. NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang points out that, "He flashes rather than dominates and wasn't as athletic during combine drills as expected. It is also worth noting how few of Alabama's highly-regarded defensive backs have lived up to their draft status since leaving Nick Saban's tutelage."

That would include cornerbacks Dee Milliner (Jets' 2013 first-round pick, 9th overall) and Dre Kirkpatrick (Bengals' 2012 first-round pick, 17th overall), as well as safety Mark Barron (Buccaneers 2012 first-round pick, 7th overall). According to ProFootballFocus.com, Milliner and Kirkpatrick ranked 66th and 98th, respectively, out of 110 cornerbacks last season, while Barron ranked 59th out of 86 safeties.

Regardless, there's no denying Dix's talent, and in a league that is continually more reliant on the passing game, having a play-making center fielder is a necessity. Rang compares Dix to Seattle's Earl Thomas, noting that while "Few free safeties possess Thomas' blend of agility, closing speed and ball-skills, should Clinton-Dix continue to improve, he could soon join Thomas as a Pro Bowler."

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco gives the Packers an A for the pick.

 
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