free safety Haha Clinton-Dix poses with NFL commissioner
Roger Goodell after being selected by the Green Bay Packers
as the 21st pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft,
Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York
GREEN BAY — The
Packers are banking on another former Alabama star to give their
team a boost.
Green Bay picked
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the 21st overall pick of the NFL draft
Thursday night, adding a hard-hitting safety to a defense that
needed playmakers. He had 51 tackles and two interceptions as a
junior in 2013, his first season as a full-time starter for
He'll join fellow
former Crimson Tide star running back Eddie Lacy in Green Bay.
the pack ... good to have ya out here," Lacy posted on
Clinton-Dix is considered to be disciplined player with good ball
skills, though not especially fast or athletic. Still, he figures
to strengthen the secondary. The Packers didn't get an
interception from their safeties last year.
free safety Haha Clinton-Dix poses for photos after being
selected by the Green Bay Packers as the 21st pick in the
first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in
he's a real all-purpose kind of safety. He's shown the ability to
cover guys in the slot, good in support, physical player,"
said general manager Ted Thompson.
wanted to find impact players on defense in the offseason. They
added veteran Julius Peppers to complement Clay Matthews on the
On paper at
least, Green Bay appears to have added playmakers that coach Mike
McCarthy sought after the 23-20 loss in an NFC wild-card game to
the San Francisco 49ers. Once again, dual-threat quarterback Colin
Kaepernick burned the defense for big plays.
He should help
out in a secondary that must contend with receivers Calvin Johnson
in Detroit and Brandon Marshall in Chicago. Clinton-Dix said he
spent much of his sophomore season covering the deep middle and
slot, before Alabama coach Nick Saban moved him around the field
more as a junior.
the versatility that you look for in the safety," Packers
safety coach Darren Perry said. "He's tough. He's plenty
smart. His football IQ is where you like it to be."
this Aug. 31, 2013, file photo, Virginia Tech running back
Trey Edmunds (14) is stopped by Alabama defensive back Ha Ha
Clinton-Dix (6) in the second half of an NCAA college
football game in Atlanta. During Clinton-Dix's first season
as full-time starter he had 51 tackles and two
interceptions. He is a top prospect in the upcoming NFL
was one of the Packers' biggest needs. But two of the top
prospects at that position were gone by the time Green Bay was up
after the Steelers took Ohio State's Ryan Shazier with the 15th
pick and the Ravens selected Alabama's C.J. Mosley two picks
still there at No. 21, though Thompson said he spoke to a
"lot of teams" when asked if he took trade calls.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel was still on the board at the time —
someone the Packers didn't need with Aaron Rodgers running the
said he took someone that fit the Packers' philosophy of selecting
the best available player who also filled a position of need.
he's got very, very good ball skills," Thompson said.
"It fit very well for us."
Green Bay still
has a chance to add at linebacker and another positional need at
tight end on Day 2 of the draft Friday. The Packers entered the
draft with four selections in the top 100 for the first time since
Injuries did play
a role in sapping the Packers last year. Rodgers also missed
nearly two months because of a collarbone injury, while receiver
Randall Cobb and tight end Jermichael Finley also missed
significant time with injuries.
Still, Green Bay
won a third straight NFC North title and finished 8-7-1.
recovering from a thumb injury that sidelined him for much of
2013. A hamstring injury sidelined promising cornerback Casey
Hayward. Green Bay hopes those two key players will be ready to go
for the fall.
fortify the pass rush. B.J. Raji was re-signed on the defensive
line, and Sam Shields was re-signed at cornerback.
Until the draft,
safety remained a concern. Morgan Burnett missed the first few
games of 2013 with a hamstring injury. M.D. Jennings left for
Chicago via free agency after a disappointing year. Neither of
them came up with a pick.
miss couple of games last season because of suspension for
breaking an NCAA rule. Otherwise, he had an excellent 2013 season
and finished with 100 tackles and seven interceptions in 38 career