HaHa Clinton-Dix: An Impact Player Needed for the Green Bay Packers
It's no laughing matter - Hasean "Ha-Ha" Clinton-Dix is now a Green Bay Packer. If you would have told Packers fan two days ago - or even a month ago - that Clinton-Dix would be there for the taking at 21, they would have called you crazy.
Clinton-Dix was one of the premier free safeties in the NFL Draft this year, and he wasn't expected to drop this far in the draft. The Packers couldn't be happier to select a player that fulfills a big need, too. He might translate better as a strong safety in the NFL, but with Capers' system, he'll likely be asked to fulfill various responsibilities. While his stats over the past two years aren't particularly eye-popping like Calvin Pryor, Dix rarely misses a tackle in the open field, recording 88 tackles over the past two years while snagging seven interceptions.
The former Alabama safety brings a hard hitting style to the Packers secondary, and can go sideline-to-sideline better than any other safety in the draft. He should become a versatile asset for the Dom Capers' defense that likes to mix up its looks and coverage. With his abilities, Dix should be able to contribute right away. He will take pressure off Morgan Burnett as the deep man. The 2013 second-team All-American knows how to read and react; he'll take the correct angle and not waste any steps in getting to the ball-carrier.
The Packer's had the fifth-worst defense in the entire league last year according to our Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points metric, allowing 77.03 points more than they should have over the course of the season. With the Bears and Lions having a stacked receiving corp and the Vikings receiving group showing a lot of potential, Dix was one of the best picks the Packers could have made.
Clinton-Dix can offer run support or keep an eye on the deep threat without the blink of an eye as well, allowing Micah Hyde to stay in the slot position in nickel and dime packages. It also helps that Clinton-Dix was coached by Nick Saban in Alabama, as Saban is known for being tough on his defensive backs and was asked to do a lot there as well. Capers wants to make this Packers defense stronger and more aggressive - Clinton-Dix will be able to handle coverage in the backfield for the Packers if Capers needs to be more aggressive with his front lineman - something the Packers have seen since Nick Collins last played.
After the pick, Clinton-Dix said he would wear number 21. The Packers have seen Craig Newsome as well as Charles Woodson wear that same number. Woodson played a lot of roles for Capers during the Packers 2010 Super Bowl run, so the same could be expected of Clinton-Dix. For the sake of the team and fans alike, he better hope he can play just as well as them. It leaves big shoes to fill, but the Packers could be getting the last laugh in the end.