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NFL Combine Recap: Safeties

Posted Mar 9, 2014

Combine Recap is a positional review of defensive players ranked as top prospects by NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock in order of his post-combine lists.

2014 NFL Combine Recaps: Offensive Tackles | Guards | Centers | Tight Ends | Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Defensive Tackles | Defensive Ends | Linebackers | Cornerbacks | Safeties

Calvin Pryor, Louisville, Jr.

In college: Pryor opted to enter the NFL Draft with a year of college eligibility remaining. He was first-team All-American Athletic Conference in 2013 after starting in all 12 games he played and finishing second on the team with 75 tackles (54 solo) and had three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 5.5 tackles for loss. Pryor was second-team All-Big East in 2012 after recording 100 tackles (52 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions and five forced fumbles in starting all 13 games. He had 43 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in starting seven of 13 games as a freshman in 2011.

On the challenges of playing safety:  “You have to do so much. You have to come up and support the run or you have to drop back and safety. It’s just not like a corner where you just think, ‘Pass all day most of the time.’ You have to think and adjust during the game.” And on having a “high football IQ”: “Safety is all about angles. Football is an angle game. You have to have an IQ and know what’s going on. You have to understand formations and how people are going in motion and you have to adjust to those things. So you have to be a smart football player at safety.”

On the best way a team will be able to apply him: “Just allow me to be me, put me in position to make plays. I love watching the Steelers and the Seahawks because they’re so aggressive, they’re greedy and they’re built off toughness. That’s the kind of system I want to be a part of.”


Ha’Sean (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix, Alabama, Jr.

In college: Clinton-Dix also entered the NFL Draft with a year of college eligibility remaining. He was second-team All-America and first-team All-SEC in 2013 when he had 51 tackles (30 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions in starting nine of 11 games he played. He had surgery on a torn meniscus in December. Clinton-Dix started 10 of 14 games in 2012 and led the Crimson Tide with five interceptions (tied for SEC lead) and had 37 tackles (23 solo). He had an interception in the SEC Championship against Georgia and in the BCS Championship against Notre Dame. Clinton-Dix had 11 tackles in 13 games as a freshman. His name, Ha’Sean is pronounced (Ha-seen) and his grandmother nicknamed him Ha Ha when he was a child.

On playing in or out of the box: “My sophomore year I wasn’t in the box that much, but my junior year I feel like I got involved in the box a lot and was able to make a lot of tackles in the box. So I felt like I did a lot my junior year. … My sophomore year, I was asked to pretty much play the middle of the field a lot. You know, make sure I was the deepest guy. The last guy to be making the tackle and what-not. But this year I was able to more involved in the run and being in the box. So I think that was the difference.”

On what separates him from other safeties: “Well, there’s a lot of good prospects out there, but I think what separates me from the rest of them is the system I played in. Like I said, Coach (Nick) Saban’s system is very hard. It took me my entire freshman year to learn that system. And I think that’s what separates me.”


Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois, Sr.

In college: Ward was third-team All-America, first-team All-MAC and a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 2013 after nabbing seven interceptions (tied for second-highest total nationally) and returning one for a touchdown. He had 95 tackles (62 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and one forced fumble. Ward was first-team All-MAC in 2012 after recording 104 tackles (65 solo), including 14 in the Orange Bowl and swiping three interceptions. He was first-team All-MAC in 2011 after posting 100 tackles (48 solo) and making his first career interception in the MAC Championship. Ward played in 13 games as a freshman in 2010 and set a school record by blocking three punts.

No-go at NFL Combine: Ward’s medical exam at the 2014 NFL Combine revealed a stress fracture in his right foot that prevented him from participating in the on-field timing and testing drills. He participated in Northern Illinois’ pro day on March 7, however, and is scheduled to have surgery on his foot that is expected to need six to eight weeks of recovery time.


Deone Bucannon, Washington State, Sr.

In college: Bucannon was first-team All-America, first-team All-Pac 12 and a finalist for the Thorpe Award in 2013 after starting all 13 games and recording six interceptions, a conference-leading 114 tackles (78 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. He was second-team All-Pac 12 in 2012 after posting four interceptions, 106 tackles (65 solo) and three tackles for loss in starting 11 of 12 games. Bucannon had three interceptions, 80 tackles (60 solo) and two tackles for loss in starting 11 of 12 games in 2011 and two interceptions, 84 tackles (67 solo) and four tackles for loss in 12 games (eight starts) as a freshman in 2010.

Strong NFL Combine: Bucannon was a “top performer” in multiple categories at the 2014 NFL Combine (Results Tracker). He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds (tied for third among safeties), bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times (third among safeties) and posted a vertical jump of 36.5 inches (tied for third among safeties) and a broad jump of 125 inches (second among safeties).


Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State, Sr.

In college: Joyner played his freshman and senior seasons at cornerback, but started 27 games at safety during his sophomore and junior seasons, and Mayock has him slotted to most likely play safety in the NFL. Joyner was first-team All-ACC in 2012 and 2013. He was first-team All-America and a finalist for the Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards as a senior after leading Florida State with 5.5 sacks, finishing second in tackles 69 (45 solo) and having seven tackles for loss and two interceptions. Joyner had 51 tackles (27 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, an interception and returned 18 kickoffs 424 yards in 2012. He had 54 tackles (38 solo), two tackles for loss, one sack, four interceptions and returned 13 kickoffs 397 yards in 2011. He played all 14 games as a freshman in 2010 and had 23 tackles (18 solo), one interception and returned 16 kickoffs 329 yards.

On playing multiple positions: “When people ask me what position I play, I say defensive back. I don’t like to limit myself. I can play safety, I can play corner, I can play nickel. Some people may have their opinions, opinions vary, but I know what I can do so I’m a defensive back. … I think safety gives me an advantage, given the fact that I can see the entire field. I believe in my football IQ. I like to diagnose the entire field to know what’s going on, so I think that gives me an advantage, but I also can play corner. I like playing nickel. I like being close to the line of scrimmage where there’s a lot of action. I just like to have fun on the football field.”

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