As a FanSided site we are participating in an ongoing 2014 NFL Mock Draft. You can follow the draft at Cleveland-based Factory of Sadness to see the picks leading to our selection below. Follow along as we complete all 32 teams’ first-round selections:
With the 15th pick in the FanSided mock draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Alabama junior safety Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix.
As was discussed on this week’s Three Rivers, One Show podcast, the Steelers’ two starting safeties – Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark – are nearing the ends of their careers, so general manager Kevin Colbert should be looking to replenish the talent at that position. While the Steelers spent a fourth-round pick on Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas last year, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t nab the playmaking Clinton-Dix if he’s available.
Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III, taken by Chicago at No. 14 in our mock draft, and Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan are intriguing alternatives on draft day, but ultimately Clinton-Dix bolsters the Steelers in a critical spot. He’d be a work-in-progress on the tackling side of things, but learning under former Pro Bowlers Polamalu and Clark should augment Ha Ha’s already-strong ball-tracking abilities.
With more passes in the air than ever before and attrition always a concern, the modern NFL requires depth in the defensive backfield. The instinctive, technically-gifted Clinton-Dix would be another injection of youth into a defense slowly transitioning away from the heroes of yesteryear.
Let’s not discount the name factor, either. If he has any longevity at all in black and gold, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would go down in the pantheon of terrific Steelers monikers, along with Rocky Bleier, Mel Blount, Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala, Ben Roethlisberger and – of course – Polamalu.
Stay locked in with City of Champions for further NFL Draft coverage, including more analysis of the Steelers’ wants and needs.