Crimson Tide in the NFL: Top collegiate safeties ready to begin pro career
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We are closing in on the final week of our 2015 NFL previews for former Alabama players. We continue today with more defensive backs that had great careers in Tuscaloosa. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Landon Collins played together for two seasons at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship in 2012. The two have found themselves on NFL rosters that need secondary playmakers and expect big things from the young safeties.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers, Safety
6’1″, 208 pounds
3 years, $5.74 million
Clinton-Dix had a terrific career at Alabama, starting 21 games and intercepting seven passes including one that Crimson Tide fans will never forget against Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. He was drafted by the Packers with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and played in all 16 games last season for Green Bay. Clinton-Dix started the final 10 games and ended the season with 92 total tackles including an interception and fumble recovery. He finished the season on the All-Rookie team but still faced some inconsistency problems throughout the year that were seen in the Packers’ playoff game against Seattle.
This season, Clinton-Dix is listed as the starter at free safety for Green Bay and looks to lead a defense that hopes to be playing in the Super Bowl. The Packers made big strides on defense last season, finishing in the top half of the league in opponent’s points and yards per game. Clinton-Dix really helped once he got on the field and his starts saw big improvement in team defense by the end of the season. The former Alabama safety has cornerback Sam Shields to help in the secondary and the Packers front seven will be lead by the two outside linebacks Clay Mathews and Julius Peppers.
Expectations are even bigger this year for Clinton-Dix but he hasn’t seen the improvement so far in the preseason that many coaches wanted. He doesn’t seem to be in danger of losing his starting job but Clinton-Dix will need to make sure he can play to his potential consistently. He can become a Pro Bowl safety in the next couple of years and it won’t be a surprise if it happens this season. Clinton-Dix has seven tackles in the first two preseason games and will see limited playing time in the final two games against the Eagles and Saints.
Landon Collins, New York Giants, Safety
6’0″, 225 pounds
4 years, $6.12 million
Landon Collins finished his career at Alabama as the Crimson Tide’s leading tackler and left before his senior season to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. Collins slipped out of the first round, as a surprise to many, but was picked up by the Giants as the 33rd overall pick. Collins has high expectations of himself for his rookie season and wants to win be the third Alabama player to win the defensive rookie of the year. The former All-American should be the starter for the Giants at free safety but an injury early in the preseason has kept him off the field for nearly two weeks. Collins is set to resume practice in full a few days earlier than expected and should see playing time in New York’s final preseason games against the Jets and Patriots. Collins joins a secondary that is lead by two veteran cornerbacks, Prince Amukamara and Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie, that will help make the transition to the NFL easier.
Caleb Turrentine is a contributor at Touchdown Alabama Magazine. Follow him on Twitter, @CalebTurrentine.