The day before the NFL draft is often a time for the select few invited to New York City, often projected first round picks, to participate in charity events, make the rounds about the Big Apple, and prepare themselves for one of the most important moments of their lives. Additionally, the collective NFL media converge upon Manhattan to check the pulse of the prospects as they anticipate where they end up in the league. With the Eagles holding the 22nd overall pick in the draft and Chip Kelly entering his second season as head coach, every rumor in the mill has involved Philadelphia in some capacity, making the pre-draft period highly entertaining. CSNPhilly.com’s Geoff Mosher, in particular, was on the scene to gauge the incoming rookie class on their thoughts on developments in Philadelphia. One player expected to be a first round pick, who would make Eagles fans awfully happy in midnight green, went beyond the normal stock conversation.
Ha-Ha says he wants badly to be an Eagle. “Come get me, please.”
— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherCSN) May 7, 2014
“He sent me an article and I was on the front of it, about going to Philly and what not,” Clinton-Dix said Wednesday at an NFL Play60 event in Manhattan involving the prospects invited to Radio City Music Hall. “I told him to tell them to come get me, please. Whatever it takes.”
The ‘he’ in question in Clinton-Dix’s statement refers to Eagles director of player personnel Ed Marynowitz. Marynowitz was once a recruiter for Alabama and played a big role in getting the safety to Tuscaloosa. Though it’s not as simple as college, where a team can lock down elite talent through their pitch alone, it certainly does not hurt that Clinton-Dix has established relationships within the Philadelphia organization.
Along with Louisville’s Calvin Pryor, HaHa Clinton-Dix has been mentioned as a first-round prospect since evaluation started for the 2014 draft. Though names such as Jimmie Ward and Deonne Bucannon have crept up into first round consideration, the Alabama product appears to be a cut above.
In his three seasons with Nick Saban’s program, Clinton-Dix was part of multiple national championship teams. After leading the team in interceptions his sophomore year, he followed up with a solid enough junior season to warrant declaring early for the draft. Though he did not blow away the field at the NFL combine, Clinton-Dix’s track record speaks for himself and his makeup as a prospect can clearly withstand a few so-so times from Indianapolis.
Unlike Pryor, Clinton-Dix projects to be more of the ‘center-fielder’ type of safety. He was often given free-reign to roam the field as he saw fit and take advantage of his innate football instincts to make plays on the ball and cover ground. Clinton-Dix’s 6’2, 200+ pound frame makes up for his ‘pedestrian’ 40-yard dash time. In fact, it is his ability to move so well and control such a long frame that has scouts salivating over what he can deliver at the next level.
Because of this projection, many feel that the safety will not be available at the 22nd overall pick. There has been a great deal of speculation that the Eagles are trying to move up into the first half of the opening round of Thursday’s draft. There are several teams (Dallas, Green Bay, Chicago) in need of safety help who sit in front of the Eagles. Chances are, if they want to have a chance at a player like Clinton-Dix, they would have to move up to 15 at the latest to feel comfortable with their chances. Though perhaps not as pressing a need position-wise as say, Anthony Barr, Clinton-Dix may be a better prospect for his spot on the field and worthy of additional resources.
If the Eagles played a more conducive system to his skillset, Pryor would be the preferred player if I were making the selection. However, Clinton-Dix appears a much more appropriate fit with what Billy Davis likes to do on his side of the ball and would bring a level of talent that the safety position has not seen in Philadelphia since Brian Dawkins. A whole lot can happen before things get started tonight, but Clinton-Dix is a player I would definitely keep an eye on if he starts to tumble into the mid-teens. Don’t believe me? NFL.com’s draft expert Mike Mayock seems to think there’s a chance that the safety can fall to the Eagles without them having to trade up.
Mayock has Eagles taking Clinton-Dix at 22.
— Paul Domowitch (@pdomo) May 8, 2014
If you don’t feel comfortable taking insight from someone with zero scouting experience, take it from the guy who might have more combined than half of the talking heads weighing in on the draft up to this point.