2014 NFL Mock Draft: Steelers take Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation has the Steelers addressing their transitioning safety position with the selection of Alabama's Clinton-Dix.

Dick LeBeau said before the 2013 NFL Draft he wanted the team to come out of it with a safety who could be mentored by Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark.

He got his wish when the Steelers traded up in the fourth round to select Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas.

Do they need another safety?

SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn believes they should kick the tires of that idea. He sent Alabama safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix to Pittsburgh with the 15th overall pick in his most recent mock draft.

His reasoning:

Troy Polamalu is still playing at a high level, but Pittsburgh needs to find another playmaker for its secondary. Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix is a versatile safety who can play in single-high coverage, and come up to the line of scrimmage to defend the run. He would form a dangerous tandem with Polamalu and be able to replace him eventually.

The Steelers haven't used the common approach of a strong and free safety in recent years, choosing to use Polamalu more as a rover with a single safety, or even having a cornerback or nickel back drop into two-deep coverage alongside Ryan Clark.

Clark is a free agent, and isn't expected back. Thomas's skillset seems to be that of a strong safety, with his highest and best use being around the box, much like Polamalu, but without high-level coverage skills. Polamalu's coverage has sagged a bit and Thomas is still developing as a young player. The addition of Clinton-Dix would appear to be more based in addressing the vacancy at Clark's position as opposed to the future replacement of Polamalu, but having scheme-versatile safeties can only be an advantage.

Pittsburgh's defense under LeBeau has thrived when the deep secondary was platooned by a smart safety who takes good angles in pursuit and doesn't get beat deep. Clark was that kind of safety through most of his time in Pittsburgh, as was Chris Hope, the player Clark replaced.

Clinton-Dix has some of that in him, although he doesn't seem quite like the run defender Clark is. He's got an advantage over all of them physically, standing at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds. His highest and best use appears to be in deep coverage, as he plays over the top well and can highpoint the ball with a good measure of success.

If the Steelers selected him, he'd compete for sub package time right away and maybe end up starting.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Behind the Steel Curtain

You must be a member of Behind the Steel Curtain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Behind the Steel Curtain. You should read them.

Join Behind the Steel Curtain

You must be a member of Behind the Steel Curtain to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Behind the Steel Curtain. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker