Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

NFC Notes: Hawks, Falcons, Pack, Saints

The Seahawks had been in danger of losing a second-round pick for failing to disclose cornerback Richard Sherman‘s “significant” MCL injury during the season, but the NFL decided Monday to let them off with a warning, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. The league concluded that the Seahawks merely misinterpreted its rules, per Garafolo. The news that Seattle is escaping punishment isn’t particularly surprising, as one of Garafolo’s NFL.com colleagues, Ian Rapoport, reported earlier this month that Seattle wasn’t going to face serious discipline for its violation.

More from Seattle and a few other NFL cities:

  • The Falcons have hired Bush Hamdan as their quarterbacks coach, reports Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). The younger brother of former NFL quarterback Gibran Hamdan, Bush Hamdan spent the previous two seasons as the University of Washington’s wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. He’s taking over in Atlanta for Matt LaFleur, now the Rams’ offensive coordinator. In doing so, Hamdan will reunite with head coach Dan Quinn, notes Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), as the two worked together at the University of Florida in 2012.
  • The Packers have a decision to make on pending free agent defensive back Micah Hyde, who could seek $4MM-plus per year on his next contract, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Hyde, who’s coming off an 11-start, three-interception season, has been with the Packers since they selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. If Hyde moves on, Green Bay could turn to Kentrell Brice and Marwin Evans, Demovsky suggests. Elsewhere in the secondary, the team will either extend safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or exercise his fifth-year option for 2018, as Demovsky opines that the Pro Bowler could be general manager Ted Thompson‘s best first-round pick since he chose Aaron Rodgers in 2005. Clinton-Dix made a strong case for that honor as a third-year pro in 2016, when he played every defensive snap for the Packers and picked off five passes.
  • Newly signed Seahawks kicker Blair Walsh‘s single-year contract is worth $1.1MM and includes no guaranteed money, per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com. Walsh stands to earn an $800K salary and could make another $300K in bonuses. The Seahawks are likely to bring in another kicker to compete against Walsh for the job this summer. Odds are that won’t be soon-to-be free agent Steven Hauschka, observes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, considering the five-year Seahawk will likely be out of their price range.
  • Continuing a Seahawks-heavy set of notes, defensive end Cliff Avril tweeted that he underwent successful surgery Tuesday. Avril didn’t specify which type of surgery he underwent, though Condotta points out that the physician who performed the procedure – Dr. William C. Meyers – specializes in core and sports hernia operations. Regardless, Avril should be fine for 2017 and will attempt to build on his first Pro Bowl season – an 11.5-sack, five-forced fumble campaign.
  • Fullback John Kuhn‘s one-year pact with the Saints is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $1.08MM, tweets Nick Underhill of The Advocate. Kuhn will earn a $1MM salary and count $695K against New Orleans’ cap in 2017.

Extra Points: Brady, Cowboys, Oliver

Even after the Patriots‘ 43-17 throttling of the previously undefeated Bengals, stories persist of the ongoing tensions between Tom Brady and the team. Kirk Minihane and Gary Tanguay joined Arbella Early Edition to discuss the chances that the recent rift will lead to a split.

They came to a surprising conclusion, both figuring that there is a more likely than not chance that Brady could finish his career with another franchise. They can see the team considering trading him if the right offer came along.

“If I’m Belichick I say… ‘Tom, thanks for the memories, swell, here’s the watch, goodbye,’” says Minihane. “You’d be insane not to do it. They’re going to at least explore trading Brady in this offseason. I’m convinced of that.”

Here are some other notes from around the NFL:

  • The Cowboys are 4-1, and most of the credit has gone to the offensive line, but not forgotten are the team’s two stars, Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray. Both players will be free agents at season’s end, but the team is not worried about getting extensions signed during the season, writes Jon Machota of DallasNews.com. The team has already targeted both players as pieces moving forward, making their pursuits known.
  • Chargers‘ running back Branden Oliver had a breakout game Sunday against the Jets, racking up 182 yards and two touchdowns rushing and receiving. The electric rookie went undrafted, and considered signing with the Colts before joining the Chargers, reports Alex Marvez of Fox Sports 1 (via Twitter).
  • Finally, Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spent some time with Packers‘ first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Dunne got to know a lot about the future star safety and his life off-the-field.

Extra Points: Burnett, Long, Adams

ESPN’s staff put together a list of each team’s starter whose job is in jeopardy. Among the most notable are 49ers running back Frank Gore, Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and Packers safety Morgan Burnett. On Burnett, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky says, “When the Packers drafted Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round, the thinking was that he would start alongside Burnett. Now, there’s a chance he could start instead of Burnett. Coach Mike McCarthy likes what Micah Hyde has done at free safety, and when Burnett strained his oblique muscle this week, he put Clinton-Dix in Burnett’s strong safety spot. The Packers made a major investment in Burnett last summer with an $8.25 million signing bonus as part of a four-year extension, but he followed it with an unproductive season.”

Here’s a few miscellaneous links from around the league:

  • Panthers veteran linebacker Chase Blackburn is on that list, as second-year man A.J. Klein is pushing for the starting job, but Blackburn is embracing his role as mentor, writes Scott Fowler in the Charlotte Observer.
  • With the Eagles in Chicago to play the Bears tonight, Zach Berman of Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the relationship between Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, who helped Long get his career back on track during their time together at Oregon.
  • The Steelers were hoping 2012 second-rounder Mike Adams would challenge for a starting tackle job, but that’s not happening, writes ESPN’s Scott Brown. Adams has been inconsistent, and “It would be charitable to put Adams among the Steelers’ best seven offensive linemen through the first 11 practices,” according to Brown. Adams started 10-of-15 games played last season, but struggled and “earned” a -4.9 overall rating from Pro Football Focus.
  • Cowboys rookie safety Ahmad Dixon’s ‘Welcome to the NFL’ hit left him with a concussion, reports Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.
  • The Seahawks’ secondary has established itself as the “Legion of Boom.” The Buccaneers are trying to establish the offensive equivalent, with the trio of Vincent Jackson, first-rounder Mike Evans and second-rounder Austin Seferian-Jenkins going by the “Three Dunkateers,” writes USA Today’s Jim Corbett.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Packers Agree To Terms

The Packers have reached an agreement with first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on his rookie contract, according to Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). The 21st overall pick in the 2014 draft, Clinton-Dix becomes the 12th first-rounder to either sign or agree to terms with his new NFL club.

Clinton-Dix, 21, was the second safety to come off the board in this month’s draft, after Louisville’s Calvin Pryor. An Alabama product, Clinton-Dix racked up 88 tackles and seven interceptions in his final two years at Alabama before deciding to forgo his senior year and enter the 2014 draft.

By locking up Clinton-Dix, the Packers have now secured seven of their nine draftees, with just second-round receiver Davante Adams and third-round tight end Richard Rodgers still unsigned. According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, Clinton-Dix is in line for a signing bonus of about $4.384MM, while his overall four-year total will be approximately $8.338MM. The deal will also include a fifth-year team option for 2018.

Packers Notes: Lyerla, Adams, Clinton-Dix

The Packers are leaning toward signing former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports.

Lyerla, in Green Bay at rookie orientation camp on a tryout basis after going undrafted, can be argued as the most talented rookie at his position. He stands 6-foot-3 and 242 pounds, and he ran 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. But, Lyerla left the Ducks program his junior season and was subsequently arrested for cocaine possession and feeling from the police.

“We did a lot of work on Colt,” general manager Ted Thompson said. “He’s a very talented athlete. We interviewed him at the combine. We went through all those procedures, talked to a lot of people. He’s a young man that made some mistakes, and we feel like he was worth bringing in and taking a look at.” 

Without Jermichael Finley in the fold, the tight end position in Green Bay is relatively thin. Fifth-year pro Andrew Quarless was re-signed this offseason and figures to be the team’s opening-day starter, and the team used a third-round pick at the position on Cal product Richard Rogers.

More news and notes from Titletown…

  • Wide receiver Davante Adams, the Packers’ second-round pick from Fresno State, is one of three rookies leading a youth infusion at the position, Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette writes. Green Bay added two more receivers on the third day of the draft with Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis (fifth found) and Saginaw Valley’s Jeff Janis (seventh round).
  • In a video posted on packersnews.com, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said he is honored and happy to be wearing No. 21, which was recently occupied by Charles Woodson, now with the Raiders.
  • The Packers drafted for defense with four of their nine picks, and Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said those rookies have a good chance to earn playing time on a unit that’s been struggling as of late.
  • Despite a contract that is set to expire after the 2016 draft, Thompson — in his 10th year as GM of the Pack — said he’s just getting started and can’t anticipate himself doing anything different, writes Dunne.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Houston, Packers, Vikings

Following one of the worst defensive seasons in team history, the Bears’ scheme under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will “undergo significant alterations in 2014,” says ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “There are some significant changes in terms of techniques that we’re going to play; how we’re going to fit the run, some of our alignments,” Tucker said. “We’ll have some alternative fronts that we’ll play. I’m not sure how much of a difference you’ll see during the OTAs and things like that because we’re going to work to lay the foundation on our base principles and techniques, which will allow us to do pretty much anything we want down the road.” Wright also mentions that the team plans to cross train all of the defensive linemen in an effort to achieve better flexibility and versatility.

In other NFC North notes. . .

  • Lions veteran cornerback Chris Houston had toe surgery earlier this week, and the team is uncertain if he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, writes Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Packers drafted four defensive rookies. Of the group, first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and third-round defensive lineman Khyri Thornton are expected to contribute as rookies. “There’s a reasonable chance Clinton-Dix will be plugged in as a starter on Day 1 of training camp,” says Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Thornton, while raw, was taken in the third round for a reason. Green Bay envisions him adding rotational juice to the defensive line.”
  • Because of an NFL rule, Vikings rookies Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton and David Yankey can’t join the team full-time until next month, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The players’ schools — UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford, respectively — are on quarters instead of semesters, and the players are required to return to school until the term ends in June.
  • Meanwhile, the Vikings envision third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, an option quarterback at Georgia Southern, as the type of complimentary, all-purpose back that has thrived in so many of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s units, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling.

NFC Notes: Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Packers, Saints, Gettleman

Eagles GM Howie Roseman met with the media following the first-round selection of Marcus Smith 26th overall, and Philly.com’s Jeff McLane had seven follow-up thoughts. Most notably, Roseman shared his initial plan of attack. Plan A entailed the team having a list of six players likely to be gone by No. 22 (where the Eagles originally were position prior to the trade down) but worth moving up for. To the best of McLane’s knowledge, that list included Anthony Barr, Odell Beckham Jr., Kyle Fuller, Ryan Shazier, Brandin Cooks and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

When those players were gone, Roseman was prepared to move down, pick up an additional pick and choose the best player available. McLane is ” not convinced Smith was at the top of that list, but of the players there he played a premium position of need and thus was moved to the front.” McLane also spoke to other teams’ representatives whose grades on Smith ranged from second to fourth round.

Here’s several more quick-hitting, NFC news and notes:

  • The Eagles place on emphasis on college graduates, says Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter).
  • The Giants drafted Weston Richburg 43rd overall last night, and what made him attractive to the team was his ability to not only block effectively, but handle the responsibility associated with the position, says ESPN’s Dan Graziano. [Tom] Coughlin and GM Jerry Reese both said the center’s responsibility for handling line and protection calls will increase under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said Richburg scored an impressive 31 on the Wonderlic test and impressed the Giants in his combine interview with his intelligence.”
  • The 49ers were very active Friday night, making five trades that netted veteran receiver Stevie Johnson as well as running back Carlos Hyde (No. 57), center Marcus Martin (No. 76), linebacker Chris Borland (No. 77) and offensive lineman Brandon Thomas (No. 100). Eric Branch at sfgate.com recaps the team’s busy day here. The 49ers also have seven picks in the final four rounds.
  • The 49ers deep stable of running backs now includes Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore and Hyde. James wants more playing time and is open to a trade, but the team has no plans to move him, says ESPN’s Bill Williamson.
  • The Packers are confident Davante Adams is the next in a long line of productive receivers drafted in the second and third round, writes Bob McGinn in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
  • Redskins second-rounder Trent Murphy, whom the team expects to contribute right away as a nickel rusher, “protects the team’s long-term interests at OLB,” tweets NFL Network’s Albert Breer.
  • With the selection of big cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste 53rd overall, the Saints continue to build a “Seattle-like secondary,” writes Larry Holder of Nola.com.
  • The Panthers announced via Twitter that GM Dave Gettleman will draft remotely via Skype today so he can be present for his son’s college graduation.

Ravens’ Draft Notes: Clinton-Dix, Ward, Bucannon

It is no secret that the Ravens have a tremendous need at safety despite drafting Matt Elam in the first round last year. The team is widely expected to select a safety and an offensive tackle in the first two rounds of the draft in some order, despite a history of taking the best player available. ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. put together a three-round mock draft, and Kiper handed the Ravens Washington State safety Deone Bucannon in round two. Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com loved this pick, noting that Bucannon could become the best safety in the draft and would start immediately next to Elam.

Here are some other rumors surrounding the Ravens’ draft:

  • McShay gave the Ravens offensive tackle Morgan Moses out of Virginia in the first round, a pick that scared Hensley due to the similarities seen with Bryant McKinnie.
  • The safety the Ravens bring in could very well rely on what round they feel comfortable devoting a pick to the position, explains Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times in a series of tweets. The only way they take one in the first round is if Ha Ha Clinton Dix of Alabama falls to them (via Twitter), but even then they are not in love with the value (via Twitter).
  • The team would be much more excited to land Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois, likely in the second round, with one member saying he has Ed Reed-like playmaking potential (via Twitter). If they can afford to wait for the third round, look for Terrence Brooks of Florida State to be the target, according to Zenitz (via Twitter). One of the Ravens’ scouts said Brooks has the best speed and acceleration of any safety in the draft (via Twitter).

Prospect Profile: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Earl Thomas signed a huge extension on Monday, making him the highest paid safety in the NFL. The reason Thomas got that money is due to the rarity of true to form center field type safety in today’s game. The versatility that a speedy defensive back that can play in the middle of the defense, providing coverage skills as well as strength bringing down the ball carrier makes a defensive coordinator’s job much easier. If not easier, then definitely more fun.Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

There is only one safety in the mold of Thomas projected to be picked in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, and that is Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Dix played three seasons with the Crimson Tide, and was a part of two national championship teams. His five interceptions as a sophomore led a highly regarded Alabama defense. Clinton-Dix was suspended for two games during the 2013 season, due to “unspecified team rules violations.” Despite missing two games, he was named First Team All-SEC after his junior season, and was a Consensus All-American safety.

Clinton-Dix measured out well at the NFL combine, standing tall at 6’1″ and 208 pounds. He ran a respectable 4.58 40-yard dash. It does not put him in the category of elite athletes, but it is a combination of size and speed that is desirable in a prospect. Under Nick Saban, he learned how to play the position efficiently. According to NFL.com, he is quick to read and react to plays, and makes up for his average speed by taking great angles to the football, where he becomes a nightmare due to his good ball skills and ability to turn defense into offense.

Like many Saban coached defensive backs, Clinton-Dix shined in college coming up to stop the run. Not one to shy from contact, he gets into the alley and is a strong open field tackler. While he does not have the top speed to run with the fastest receivers in the NFL, nor the bulk to be considered a true in the box safety, he does provide versatility in his ability to switch from a run stopper to a pass defender from play to play.

Safety is a tough position to gauge in regards to this draft. Clinton-Dix is not the clear cut top option, as Louisville’s Calvin Pryor has been making headway. The two are very different players as well, as Clinton-Dix has the reputation for staying in the middle of the field and making plays on the ball, whereas Pryor is known as the big hitter. Style will play a huge role in which player comes off the board first.

Clinton-Dix starts to gain a lot of traction among mock drafts starting with the Lions (No. 10). If the Lions pass on him, he begins to make a lot of sense for the Rams (No. 13) and the Bears (No. 14). ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. agrees that the Rams could jump on him, and Todd McShay has him landing in St. Louis as well (subscription required). The Vikings (No. 8) seem like the highest he could possibly go, and if the Steelers (No. 15) do pass, the Cowboys (No. 16), Ravens (No. 17), and Jets (No. 18) all have significant need at safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Aikens, Lawrence

University of Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is visiting Jets tomorrow, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). The team is in desperate need of a playmaker at the position, as Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow struggled to provide a consistent option at tight end in 2013.

  • Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo visited the Jets today, reports Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). The team could be interested in the signal-caller, should he be available in the second round.
  • Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be visiting the Jets tomorrow, reports Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Clinton-Dix has visited the Pats and Eagles earlier this offseason.
  • The Dolphins are interested in Liberty cornerback Walt Aikens, writes Kevin Lerner of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The Dolphins need to add to their secondary, and were impressed by Aikens during Senior Bowl practices.
  • The Patriots had a pre-draft visit lined up for Demarcus Lawrence, but decided to cancel it, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. The defensive end/outside linebacker could go off the board within the top 50 picks.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.