In 2013 the safety position was, without a doubt, the weakest position on the Packer defense. The whole lot of them didn’t muster a single interception. The Packers solution to the dilemna, in part, was drafting Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, but Clinton-Dix hasn’t been thrown in with the starters on defense like Morgan Burnett was his rookie season. Plus, Micah Hyde has been coming along and the coaches are speaking very positively about him.
So, which of these two guys will be the Packers’ solution at safety in 2014?
At this stage of the game there’s little doubt that Micah Hyde has the advantage. He’s got a year under his belt and has proved himself to do a fairly good job in the role of safety. Jumping into a starting role at the beginning of your rookie season only happens with a very select few special players who are “men among boys” kind of players.
However, Micah has a year under his belt now. Which means, he has a better grasp of the playbook and a better overall understanding about the team’s approach to defense and his role in that defensive machine. This gives him a huge edge on Clinton-Dix right now. Add to that the fact that Micah is constantly learning on-field and asking questions of the other safeties and coaches, and you have a guy who has developed a ton of knowledge in a short time and is always looking to better himself.
I think Micah will have to make another step forward if he’s intending to keep the position though. He’s not so outstanding at this point that no one’s going to take the spot away from him. If he doesn’t continue to improve, Clinton Dix will likely take his place as soon as he familiarizes himself with the playbook.
Ha Ha Clinton Dix
Ha Ha’s advantage is that he’s bigger and has more range. He’s more of a prototypical safety. Of course he has a mountain of knowledge to gather before he’s ready to threaten Hyde for the starting safety spot. Micah is a quick study and goes above and beyond in learning the Packers’ defense. Ha Ha has a lot of catching up to do.
I like Clinton-Dix’s ability to sniff out plays and close gaps rapidly. In the college highlights, he just has a knack for knowing where the quarterback wants to go with the ball and getting there before the ball does. What remains to be seen is whether he’ll have that same intuition against NFL quarterbacks who are much more adept at disguising their intentions and releasing the ball quicker.
When the team puts on pads for the first time in 2014, we’ll start to get a read on Clinton-Dix’s progress and whether he will be the replacement for Nick Collins we’ve all been waiting for.
If Clinton-Dix is able to unseat Micah Hyde for the starting position it will be based on a really good performance. Micah’s doing some good things and has the coaches’ eyes. If Ha Ha can beat him out, it will be because he’s doing an outstanding job and not because Hyde is replaceable.