2014 NFL Draft Position Preview: Safety

ha ha clinton dix 2014 nfl draft
ha ha clinton dix 2014 nfl draft
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back HaSean Clinton Dix 6 intercepts a pass intended for Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver DaVaris Daniels Eileen Blass USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t appear as if there is an elite safety prospect this year, though many of these players look to be true contributors upon their arrival.

The highest-rated free safety in the 2014 class is Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, whose college career compares favorably to a number of other safeties drafted in the first round in recent years such as Eric Berry, Earl Thomas III, Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid and Matt Elam. Despite a 2013 campaign in which Clinton-Dix regressed a bit from a stellar junior season — which could be a result of playing through a knee injury —  he still earned All-SEC honors.

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Clinton-Dix is being viewed as a true center fielder in the secondary, with a strong ability to read opposing quarterbacks’ eyes and then make a quick break on the ball. He’s also a sure tackler in the open field.

Louisville’s Calvin Pryor makes a strong case to be the top-ranked safety this year as his draft stock skyrocketed after a dominating stretch to finish out his season. The first-team All-AAC standout had 75 tackles, three interceptions, four pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles for the Cardinals and earned a reputation for being a big-time hitter after forcing eight fumbles in his career. Though Pryor doesn’t possess elite speed, he is instinctive on the football field and has shown the ability to cover a lot of turf.

Rounding out the top three safeties is Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward, who led the Huskies with 95 tackles last season after previously eclipsing the 100-tackle mark each of two prior seasons. Ward also had 10 pass breakups, a team-high seven picks and 2.5 tackles for loss. But where Ward really began to garner attention was at the Senior Bowl in January. There, Ward thrived in deep coverage and defending the slot, and was touted as the best pass defender in attendance.

XN Sports Safety Rankings:

1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

2. Calvin Pryor

3. Jimmie Ward

4. Deone Bucannon

5. Ed Reynolds

6. Dion Bailey

7. Terrence Brooks

8. Craig Loston

9. Ahmad Dixon

10. Marqueston Huff

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Sam Spiegelman
Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.