If there is one thing that the Green Bay Packers have struggled with over the past few seasons, it has been its defense. While the offense has been lighting up the scoreboard and the stat chart, the defense has been allowing opposing defenses, mainly the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, to tear them apart. Part of this has been because of injuries to key defensive players, including last year when linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Casey Hayward missed significant time due to various injuries. But, even when the team was healthy, the defense still gave up yards.
One area of weakness was the play of the safeties, Morgan Burnett and M.D. Jennings. There were many times when Burnett and Jennings were either getting burnt or were completely out of place. There have been rumors that second year corner Micah Hyde could be moving to safety, but even if he does, the Packers desperately need a safety in this year’s draft.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
According to many draft experts, the best safety prospect is Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama. In the new “pass happy” NFL, Clinton-Dix makes perfect sense if he falls all the way to number 21. He is a great pass defender and has the size to play physical like a Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks. In his two years as the starting safety for the Crimson Tide, Clinton-Dix had seven interceptions and 87 total tackles. There’s a reason his is the number one safety on many draft boards, the only worry is that he won’t be around when the Packers pick.
A player that might be available for the Packers is Calvin Pryor from Louisville. While Pryor did not play on a pro heavy defense like Clinton-Dix, he did show why he is a first round prospect. In his final season at Louisville, Pryor had 71 total tackles and three interceptions. While he pass defensive was good, Pryor’s biggest strength might be his hitting. Pryor reminds me of a Brandon Meriweather when it comes to his hitting. Pryor comes in fast and lowers the boom. That combination of pass defense and hard hitting would make Pryor a good pickup in the first round.
While most of the focus is one Clinton-Dix and Pryor, the Packers might be able to get a quality safety in the middle rounds in Tre Boston from North Carolina. Like Micah Hyde, Boston can play as a corner as well as safety. A three year starter for the Tar Heels, Boston steadily improved each year, totaling 250 tackles and 12 interceptions during his college career. Those ball hawk skills could make Boston a late round steal for the Packers.
Defense will again be the key for the Packers during the draft. The safety spot has a lot of young talent. Ted Thompson has his choice on which one he wants.