2014 NFL Draft Prospect: Ha’Sean “Ha-Ha” Clinton-Dix

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As the 2014 NFL Draft talk begins to heat up, it is time to take a look at various prospects that could be on the New York Jets radar. While the Jets saw excellent improvement from young safety Antonio Allen this past season, adding a ball hawk in the draft would help the back end of the secondary. Lets take a look at a guy who is considered the best safety in the 2014 draft class – Alabama safety Ha’Sean “Ha-Ha”” Clinton-Dix.

About:

Clinton-Dix stands at 6 feet, 1 inch and weighs 206 pounds. His long frame could use some more muscle mass, which I will touch on later. The Alabama product was the centerfield of their defense the past two seasons, one in which he won a national title.

He reeled in five interceptions his sophomore year (first as a starter) and two this past year, where he was first-team SEC. Clinton-Dix is a former five star recruit and was the number one overall defensive back in his class.

Strengths:

I started with tape from HaHa’s sophomore year and worked my way all the way through this past season. The most notable game on the stat sheet was the national title match up versus Notre Dame, where Clinton-Dix recorded an interception and seven tackles (one less than CJ Mosley).

After diving into the tape, Clinton-Dix’s strengths jump right out. He is a ballhawking safety that shows decent range. He has relatively long arms and can pluck the ball out of the air. When he was not a known commodity in his sophomore year, he ate quarterbacks alive.

He also has extremely good downhill speed (not great speed overall, just downhill). Clinton-Dix seems to quickly approach the line of scrimmage, specifically on outside runs where he can elude blockers. At times he finds his way into the backfield, often forcing runners to change direction.

HaHa is also quite dangerous with the ball in his hands. The former kick-returner from Orlando, Florida has really good vision. He seems to be quite intelligent in terms of where he is on the field and situationally as well (seen in the screenshot below, he keeps his feet back while controlling the ball).

Screenshot 2014-01-28 18.28.11

Excellent control after Dee Milliner tipped the ball.

 

Weaknesses:

Unlike many, I have noticed a lot of red flags in Clinton-Dix’s game. To describe it in simple terms, he just is not a very physical player. While the game has changed in terms of the hits safeties are allowed to make, they still need to display physical tackling.

HaHa is not a poor tackler by any means, but physicality on the defensive side does not just include tackling. Most notably are his deficiencies in block shedding. Many times, a team will run it up the gut and Clinton-Dix will get thrown out of the play, towards the sideline.

Fortunately, this is rarely a problem as he plays behind CJ Mosley, one of the best linebackers in all of college football. In the NFL, Clinton-Dix will be tested in big spots as the last line of defense. If he is thrown out of a play (and he will be facing much more physical blockers) the runner can easily take it the house.

Screenshot 2014-01-28 18.37.42

That is a half back completely taking Clinton-Dix out of a Johnny Manziel run.

While I did list him as having respectable range, I did notice a difference in his play when he was behind Dee Milliner versus any other corner. Milliner was very physical at the line in college, allowing Clinton-Dix to play more aggressive and towards the ball.

Screenshot 2014-01-28 18.41.41

Mike Evans had no problem catching this ball, as the Clinton-Dix came over way too late.

When helping less talented corners, Clinton-Dix was not able to get a jump on the ball which could be a reason for his interception drop off this past season.

How does he fit on the Jets?:

The Jets are actually only one of a handful of teams that I see as a good fit for Clinton-Dix. The problem is, a team that needs back end run support should stay far away from him, especially in the first round.

The Jets have a really stout front seven and one of the best run defenses in football. Adding a player like HaHa to the secondary would aid the coverage, especially if Rex Ryan let him roam free.

The Jets were hit over the top by the deep ball quite consistently all year and lacked a “deep coverage” safety. While Clinton-Dix is not a finished product, he does seem to excel in coverage.

Conclusion:

As you have probably already gathered, I am not too high on Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix. While he had a standout career at Alabama and still may be the best safety in this draft class, he does not warrant a top 25 pick.

In an NFL training regimen he might be able to bulk up and become slightly more physical, but that is a large risk for a team ready to invest a first round pick. The Jets should look towards the back end of the draft for safety help, while continuing to develop Antonio Allen, who looked quite promising this past season.

 

Follow Connor Rogers: @Real_CR3

27 thoughts on “2014 NFL Draft Prospect: Ha’Sean “Ha-Ha” Clinton-Dix

  1. Good breakdown. He should be a 2nd rd pick but Alabama’s name will push him up the board. Hopefully leaves an additional player that fits our program for us.

  2. You can’t have two weak tacklers in the secondary. Milner seemed average as a tackler and often blocked out. Two guys like that in the secondary could be a major problem once a back breaks through the line

  3. I am on the fence about Haha. As you point out, he is a perfect fit for this team. We already have eight run-stuffers (seven if we do not keep Pace and the new guy is a downgrade) and need a rangy safety. He also has synergy with Milliner as they both play better when paired together. The pro most like Haha is Ed Reed, and Rex loves him some Reed. Plus, Saban is the best college coach at training DBs and Ryan seems to acknowledge that. At the same time, though, while he is the only real safety with a first-round grade, I just cannot get myself to love the pick. He may not be there at #18 and he probably will not be there if we trade back past GB and Philly, but I just do not know if he is worth the 18th pick.

  4. Resign Cro to a lower contract, move him to FS. Give AA the SS job, and sign a CB in FA, I’m a fan of Shields..great speed.
    Sure, if Dix is the best player on your board, then go ahead and take him. However, he is currently the clear #1 Safety, in this draft. If that doesn’t changes, I think you can expect him to go higher than this, because of perceived scarcity value.

  5. @Lidman

    Never understood the Jet fans fascination with moving Cro to safety, here is why it is a terrible idea:

    1) He is not a good enough tackler to play safety, the last line of defense.

    2) He would offer nothing in run support.

    3) He has done his best work since coming to the Jets because of Rex Ryan’s MAN coverage scheme – not zone – which most free safeties play.

    I do agree with you about moving AA to starting SS though, he would flourish there.

  6. I think Ed Reynolds may be a better prospect and be selected ahead of him by the time the draft takes place. Calvin Pryor is also a good FS. My preference is to address FS in FA. Byrd will cost too much but Chris Clemons is the guy I’m targeting.

    I think the Jets need better coverage safeties and need to stay away from anyone named Landry at this point. Allen is developing nicely into a SS who can cover. But we need that deep patrol which Ha-Ha fits nicely – the editor is spot-on there. I would just hope this is addressed in FA since we have such glaring needs on offense and need to retain our top picks for that. Ha-Ha, Reynolds and/or Pryor should be 2nd round picks.

  7. @John X

    Very well said, my next breakdown is actually on Reynolds who I think will be a much more complete player.

    Completely agree that addressing the ballhawk safety in free agency would be ideal, leaves us in better position in rounds 1+2.

  8. Connor..

    I’ve been a big proponent of moving Cro to FS, since last year. I’ll address your points:

    -You’re right, nobody will ever call Cro a tackling machine. If you were playing a higher concentration of zone concepts, I think that would be a bigger issue. The FS, in Rex’ system rarely comes up in run support anyway, so I don’t think that is as big a detriment. It seems to me there are more S who excel coming ‘downhill’ in run support, than there are guys who are great cover guys (which makes sense because if they were great cover guys, they’d likely be Corners..we do know Cro has cover skills). As a ‘last line of defense’ he does offer you elite speed (even at 30) and range. So, even if he’s not the greatest tackler, his speed could at least allow him to slow down guys and give the calvary a chance to arrive. Ed Reed isn’t known as a good tackler. I don’t bring him up to compare the two, just to point out that Cro has similar traits as Reed, who fit well in Rex’ system.

    -For all Cro’s athtletic gifts, he’s been a mediocre corner, at best. Yes, in 2012 he had a great year. However, the NYJ run defense was 26th, and fact is: team’s didn’t need to throw on the NYJ to win. I also think the ‘Nnamdi effect’ was in place: why throw at Cro when there are easy pickings everywhere else. When he was the #2 CB, his athletic gifts were often enough, on there own, to best the guy across from him. One of the biggest complaints Cro’s coaches have is his propecity, at Corner, to pedal back before the snap, rather than get his hands on the WR. He doesn’t use his length as much as he should, never has. He has great straight-line speed, but not great change of direction, ‘loose hips’, ability. On top of that, his hips are now an issue. I have arthritis; it never improves, only continues to get worse. So, to expect him to regain peak condition, at this point, is grasping, IMO.
    -Look, I could be wrong..I am often (just ask my wife and kids). However, I think Cro’s speed/range and ball skills combined with Rex’ philosophy with a lot of single man on the outside, using a single high, ball hawking, FS, mesh. First, at that position, his ‘stiff hips’ are less likely to take a pounding. Second, I have zero doubts he would be among the league leaders in INTs, and creating TOs is something this defense has always struggled with (since Rex’ arrival).
    -Finally, when Cro first got here everyone pointed to him as the poster child for the dumb, irresponsible athlete: 8 kids, with 6 different women, blew his rookie contract and was a difficult guy, hence the trade, from SD. However, since his arrival, I think his image has changed. Revis often talked about his film sessions with Cro, and his attention to detail. When he got his new contract he set up trust accounts for all his kids. He drives a Prius, because it’s economical. He never goes out (has he had any bad press here?). My point is the guy has grown up and matured. If you read Collision Low Crossers, much of this is confirmed. He loves to practice and he’s 100% football, 100% of the time. I don’t think that can be understated. I’m not saying he is any of these guys, but Ronnie Lott, Daryl Green and Rod Woodson were all great CBs who transitioned to S, later in their career. Cro does have similar skills to the latter two, IMO. He knows Rex’ defense and he is a lockeroom leader. If you can get him back here at $5mm, then you don’t have to pay a Byrd or Ward $7-8mm, and that money can be used elswhere. Then you could bring in another late round S, to develop, ala Allen.

    Again, I’m not saying there is no way I’m wrong. Maybe he wouldn’t want to do that, or maybe the coaching staff doesn’t think he could do it. It’s just my own observation.

  9. Last I checked, Rex was the HC. If you believe Idzik allows Rex to make the picks, you can believe that but try keeping it to yourself since you have, you know, not a shred of evidence to support this claim.

    And what kind of qualifier is that – did Rex ever make a statement that insinuated that with regard to FS, they must get over-value? If someone drops to 18, this means he’s not likely a top 10 pick. Just sayin’.

  10. Great breakdown! Interesting to see that he was 5 star recruit and top at his position and maintained that level throughout his college career into the draft. Sounds exactly like Sheldon Richardson.

    I am opposed to any team taking a safety in the top 25 picks in most years. Talent at that position is not worth the 18th pick.

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  12. Connor, I look forward to the Ed Reynolds scouting report among others – I guess you’re the draft expert here. Reynolds is an instinctive, smart field general who shut down ASJ and is one of my favorite players in the draft along with OLB Kyle Van Noy. Unfortunately, we’re not in the best position to draft either. And this Jets team may be more inclined to go for a bigger OLB anyway.

  13. John X/Nikolas

    I think both guys will have influence on the pick at 18. If Idzik chose to keep Rex, and Rex is going to coach the players, it would seem he would certainly want to pick someone Rex is on board with. Conversely, if after their draft process is complete, and Ha Ha is their 5th ranked player, and he’s their at 18, there is no doubt Idzik would side with their consensus and take that player. I don’t have any evidence, but I also know most good organizations, or businesses, are successful because of collaboration.

  14. Good organizations succeed because they have great leadership. Such leaders are placed in a position of trust to make the right decision for future, long-term success as opposed to a self-gratifying head coach that tends to be short-sighted.
    Leaders don’t make decision based on consensus. They should listen to all sides of an issue and make a decision as a leader in the best interest of an organization.
    I think too many tend to think that kumbaya sessions of group-think and consensus somehow always lead to the best answer. This is proven time and again to be the worst route.
    Idzik IS the leader and HE will make any final decision regarding player personnel. This isn’t Tannenbaum.

  15. John X…

    To quote you: “you can believe that but try keeping it to yourself since you have, you know, not a shred of evidence to support this claim.”

    There is no way you can expect one man to make all the decisions. That would mean he, himself, evaluates every player. It’s impossible to do. They have a scouting department, which comes up with the consensus. Sure, push comes to shove, I’m sure Idzik has the final say, as did Tannenbaum (see the trade for Stephen Hill). But, to think Rex has zero say is naive.

    Why so combative?

  16. Rex has zero say. He has big input but zero say. Is that so hard to understand?

    Not combative, just making a point. Don’t feel offended.

  17. @JX

    You are just plain wrong on this point.

    A) Idzik is a peacemaker. The talking points that began with his hire and are the only ones undoubtedly his are: “it will be a team/consensus/group decision. Everyone will make the decision together.”
    B) There are different types of leaders. A general will be an awful leader of a lab and a laboratory head will be awful at leading an army. Scratch that: even army commanders are different. There are centralized commanders and decentralized ones, with the decentralized ones often being better.

  18. I can briefly explain their relationship as GM and Head Coach in player evaluations.

    John: Rex, you had a great season. What kind of players are you gonna need to fix the holes in the defense.

    Rex: I’ll need a better center fielder to compete with Josh, Ed, and Dawan. Maybe a better outside linebacker then pace, but we might still get a year out of that clown.

    John: alright Rex, get me a list of about 9-15 guys from each position, and maybe another 20 that you can “fit” somewhere and we will sit down and work out the details.

    Same with Marty/Special teams and the whole time he has his scouts pouring through tape.

    Its all going to come down to a huge list comprised of players based on percieved talent and availability and the decisions will be made based on what is available.

    Everyone has input based on the specific needs of their charge vs overall team needs.

  19. Kash,

    You are a very consistent in that you never read entire posts and you emotionally go off on a tangent on the only part(s) you did read and look foolish and quite honestly waste everyone’s time as a result.
    This is one reason (besides being diametrically opposed to most things you believe, but that’s okay) I really don’t want to engage anymore conversation with you but feel like once again I need to defend myself for something I already stated.

    Now go back and read (how many times do I need to ask you this?) where I said John will LISTEN to all input yet make the decision on his own. Go on, it’s there. I promise you.
    That’s essentially the definition of leadership. Look it up. And if you don’t believe me, then take any leadership training and this is and has been, the doctrine for successful leadership for generations. A strong leader makes bold decisions on behalf of a units welfare.

    Our culture has lost touch with this as schools, media and government tend to orient towards “consensus” thinking. But that’s not leadership.
    Now, of the flip side, a poor leader is one who does not listen to input and makes decisions solely on his own methodology. That’s called Imperialism. We have that kind of leader sitting in the White House today.

    Kash: read ALL of the POSTS before replying. Thank you.

  20. @JX

    I tend not to argue once I have dismantled every reasonable argument and my opposite is left the option of agreeing with me or pretending he is omniscient and indirectly questioning my intelligence. For you, I will make an exception.

    You are very consistent in that you want to have your cake and eat it, too. What you said was:

    “Good organizations succeed because they have great leadership. Such leaders are placed in a position of trust to make the right decision for future, long-term success as opposed to a self-gratifying head coach that tends to be short-sighted.
    Leaders don’t make decision based on consensus. They should listen to all sides of an issue and make a decision as a leader in the best interest of an organization.
    I think too many tend to think that kumbaya sessions of group-think and consensus somehow always lead to the best answer. This is proven time and again to be the worst route.
    Idzik IS the leader and HE will make any final decision regarding player personnel. This isn’t Tannenbaum.

    Now for a short lesson in composition: the beginning and the end always get the emphasis; people reduce the importance of the middle of every type of speech, from sentences to entire novels and orations. Good writers know that the placement shows where people rank things and can change the entire emphasis by moving concepts to the middle or to either end.

    Your first paragraph shows a classic example of a bad writer: it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of what you wrote. Your argument starts in the second paragraph (who writes eight sentences in four paragraphs? – another sign of a bad writer) but you use the first one to take a confusing swipe at Rex at the end. Nevermind that self-gratifying HCs are not antithetical to leaders or long-term success, or that Bill Belichick is the definition of “self-gratifying” and does pretty damn well running the show up in NE, your argument does not make sense. You are talking about a general manager of a NFL franchise, not whatever obscure “leader” (of who?) that you want. A GM is one of the most dependent positions, as almost everything that he knows is being fed to him by other people. He can never make an independent decision because most of the information that goes into that decision will be supplied to him by other people. Idzik has a limited background in scouting, so he relies on the conclusions of all his scouts and coaches to evaluate a player. He can go with his gut, like MT did, but MT did not have long-term success.

    This short-sightedness about the point of view of a GM plagues your thinking. You never once refer to Idzik as a GM and always as your mythic “leader” (again – of who?). It sounds ridiculous and it reminds me of the reverence for “Die Führer.”

    Your next point is to say that leaders (The Leader?) do not depend on the consensus, which is the general opinion of a group, which would again mean Idzik casting aside everything his scouts and coaches tell him and either picking blindly or listening to only one segment. This puts you into a bind: if Idzik always listens to this one segment, then he is not really the one making decisions, but if he listens to people with nothing to indicate how good their advice is, he cannot always make good decisions and cannot be a good leader. You resolve this dilemma by saying that he should always listen to everybody, which you hide away in the middle of the paragraph, but he should still make his own decisions, which contradicts a leader not making decisions by the consensus, with which you began the paragraph. Having your cake and eating it, too.

    The third paragraphed, deemphasized, rails about “kumbaya sessions of group-think.” You want to accuse us of supporting this type of view, because you believe we somehow think this, though nobody said anything to indicate as much. You are going completely off the reservation and expanding a discussion of the GM position in football to the rest of the world (although, never calling Idzik a GM helps with this). It is a cry to the past with its models of strong leadership, and while I would not disagree with you in general, the position of the GM of a NFL franchise is not the place for that style of leadership. GMs have to manage 53 assets that are under contract but independent, eight more assets on the PS, a multitude of coaches, each responsible for their own domain, and a throng of specialized workers in the front office, many of which are out on assignment for the majority of the year. The GM does not have enough levers to control this monstrosity, so going with the flow rather than fighting it is a much better solution. Idzik will make his own decisions, but they will be based off the general consensus, which he, in fact, chose to inforce rather than let opinions and aggravations roam free and reach the media.

    Finally, your conclusion reiterates the point you want to make: Idzik “the Leader” making the decisions. Unfortunately, the analysis of the proof leading to this shows that Idzik would be making all decisions based off what everybody else in the organization thinks. You bring up MT at the end in an attempt to contrast styles, I guess. It is quite clear that MT ran the ship when he was the GM and that MT traded picks left and right to go after the players he wanted. Even giving Rex one pick per draft – we know one was Conner and another was Scotty, but do we know of anyone else besides those? – was pure “leader ignoring the consensus.” Several key individuals seemed to have a lot of say on MT’s picks. MT was horrible as a talent evaluator, but your argument falls flat because he embodied the very thing you are arguing for. It is a bad way to end.

  21. Kash,

    I’m sure you had some interesting points there but that’s too long and I’m kind of finished with you.

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