Alabama is a perennial high-impact power. Crimson Tide players, particularly on defense, have not always been that on the NFL level. And that is one factor why at least one top NFL draft analyst rates Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as less than the top safety going into the draft next month.
ESPN draft maven Mel Kiper has tilted his decision between Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor toward the latter in part because “Pryor is just lights-out,” but also in part because seeming can’t-miss Alabama defenders have missed too often.
“Alabama defensive players in general struggle in the NFL,” Kiper said. “Not just one or two; it’s a pretty good list of names you can throw out there, guys who have not gotten it done on the defensive side of the ball.
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“That’s a concern to me. That’s got to be factored in here.”
Safety Mark Barron was a top-10 pick by Tampa Bay in 2012 and has not played like a top-10 pick. Rush linebacker Courtney Upshaw, a second-round pick in the same draft, has totaled 3 sacks over two seasons with Baltimore. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the 17th pick in 2012, has had some injury issues but wasn’t high-impact when healthy. Dont’a Hightower is an exception to the bad-‘Bama theme, developing into a solid linebacker with New England.
That said, “Clinton-Dix has range, he can cover, he’s a pretty good tackler,” Kiper said. But “I’m going to probably make Pryor the top safety on my board.”