Ha'sean Clinton-Dix | 6'1, 208 pounds | Safety | Alabama | Junior
The Alabama defense has a next man up mentality. With the number of players the Crimson Tide sends to the NFL, fans in Tuscaloosa have gotten used to seeing new faces scattered across the field each fall. Lucky for those fans, the drop off in talent is never too drastic.
Exhibit A: Safety Ha'sean "Haha" Clinton-Dix. The junior defensive back wasn't always on the field as a sophomore for the National Champs, but when he was he flashed big play ability in the secondary and the potential to already be considered a big time NFL Draft prospect.
An athletic safety with the range to roam center field, Clinton-Dix will have the opportunity to make a statement against top competition and on a big national stage at Alabama. What he does with it will determine how he grades out in the eyes of NFL scouts.
What he does well
Athletically, Clinton-Dix is impressive and can cover a ton of ground in the secondary. Alabama often deployed him as the lone deep safety in Nick Saban's Cover 3 scheme. That role gave him a lot of responsibility in terms of reading routes and will give him an edge in transitioning to the NFL. But in Saban's scheme, he also spends some time close to the line of scrimmage and will have a chance to develop a versatile skill set and show NFL teams a variety of tools on tape.
Clinton-Dix is a fast enough to close on the football, and his ball skills are a major strength in his game. He really started to improve towards the end of the season and intercepted a pass in each of Alabama's final three games. In total, he picked off four passes as a sophomore and broke up a handful of other passes. He appears to have long arms, though there is no official measurement at this point. His lanky build will help him in the NFL. He made major strides in reading the quarterback and receivers as the season went on.
It's also worth noting that Clinton-Dix is a hard-hitting safety when he wants to be. More on that below.
What he needs to improve on
Clinton-Dix appears to be still getting used to the responsibility he has in Saban's defensive scheme. While he hits hard, Clinton-Dix often appears hesitant in run defense, not flying in with reckless abandon. His passing game instincts are strong, but he's lacking a bit when it comes to the running game. That could be something that improves as he gains more experiences, but he needs to take better angles and improve his tackling technique a bit.
As a pass defender, Clinton-Dix will occasionally get a bit too aggressive going for the big play, but he's such a strong athlete that he's able to get away with it most time. It cost him once in the National Championship game, though.
Clinton-Dix will be a featured piece of Alabama's defense this season, so we will learn a lot more about his strengths, weaknesses and projected fit in the NFL as the 2013 season unfolds. Physically, he's built to play in the NFL. He is playing in the perfect scheme to mold him for NFL success and could be the next member of the Crimson Tide secondary to be a first round draft pick in the NFL. But he's not all the way there yet. How will he handle the added responsibility and leadership role this season? We'll find out.
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