Ha’sean Clinton-Dix is a rangy safety from Alabama, he shows good speed, and fluid hips, but there are some things that he needs to work on:
What happens on this play is very simple, Clinton-Dix is playing Single High Safety, meaning he is basically playing Center Field and supplying help over the top to anybody who needs it. Manziel recognizes that Clinton-Dix is the only over the top help, Manziel looks off Clinton-Dix knowing the whole time that he wants to go to Mike Evans in single coverage. Clinton-Dix needs to understand this, he came down to help his Corner Back who had his man well covered, Dix needs to get over the top knowing that one false step will have him out of position. This is what happens all to often to Clinton-Dix, and if he wants to be an elite free safety he needs to be able to understand what the Quarterback is trying to do to him. Earl Thomas has popularized this defensive scheme with his elite speed and fluidity that Clinton-Dix also possesses but Thomas also has excellent instincts and knowledge of the game which Clinton-Dix doesn’t have yet.
Here you see Clinton-Dix play downhill, break down, and make a good form tackle on Manziel. Clinton-Dix is not always a willing tackler, he will occasionally avoid contact but he always seems to rally to the ball. His tendency to launch his body at the ball carrier rather than form up and tackle needs to be fixed also. Clinton-Dix has shown the ability to be a solid player against the run though.
Here again you see Clinton-Dix take 2 false steps after being looked off in the passing game, he is two steps too late to get over the top and Mike Evans gets another huge gain against a Single High Safety look.
Here Clinton-Dix shows why he has the ability to be special, he is again playing Single High Safety but is not looked off this time, because of this he is able to get over the top to help his Corner Back, he tracks the ball perfectly and times up his hit just as the receiver catches the ball to knock the ball loose. This is an NFL play.
On this play it looks like Clinton-Dix was responsible for deep middle, he read Manziel’s eyes, broke on the ball, and made the receiver alligator arm the catch in fear of the hit that Clinton-Dix was about to lay on him. When Clinton-Dix has less responsibilities it seems he is able to make more plays.
Here Clinton-Dix sticks with his man all the way through a broken play and forces an incomplete pass, he displays his elite closing speed and ability to flip his hips, plays like this display his ability to play Nickleback in sub-packages in the NFL.
Clinton-Dix gets knocked off the ball by a Wide Receiver here, that is unacceptable. If Clinton-Dix plays some Nickleback he could be valuable in blitz packages due to his length and quickness, but if he gets put on skates by a Wide Receiver he is going to be strictly a Safety with no versatility.
Clinton-Dix is a polarizing player, he has the physical tools, size, and the ball skills that are very important to an elite Free Safety, but the mental part of the game is a problem for him, he is slow in diagnosing plays, he doesn’t always give 100%, and he can easily be looked off by a Quarterback.
Ha’sean Clinton-Dix is the only elite Free Safety in this draft class, there are very few elite Free Safeties in the NFL making Clinton-Dix a valuable commodity. He will be a Top 15 Pick and can be one of the best safeties in the NFL if he can learn to diagnose what is happening on the field better.