Haha Clinton-Dix*, S, Alabama
Height: 6-1. Weight: 208. 40 Time: 4.58. Projected Round (2014): 1. 5/5/14: Sources have said that Clinton-Dix could slide because he is not an elite athlete, but he is the consensus top-ranked safety and could sneak into the top 10. There are a lot of safety-needy teams in the top 16, so it looks unlikely that Clinton-Dix slides into the 20s.
Clinton-Dix is a rangy free safety who covers a lot of ground as the deep center fielder. He is superb at taking away long pass plays downfield and also can match up on tight ends. Clinton-Dix has the size and length to be used in a variety of ways. He looks like a nice value pick.
At the Combine, Clinton-Dix had a solid 40 time and looked even better in the field work. He moved well in those drills with smooth hips to turn and good feet. Clinton-Dix showed that he is a natural center fielder who covers a lot of ground.
Clinton-Dix totaled 50 tackles, two interceptions and four passes broken up in 2013. He played well against Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, LSU and Mississippi State. Clinton-Dix was suspended for two games for taking a loan from an assistant, but Nick Saban reinstated him before the game against Arkansas. Clinton-Dix didn't have his best game against Auburn as he got caught on a few misdirection runs.
Clinton-Dix did some damage to his draft stock when he landed that then-indefinite suspension for taking a loan from an Alabama assistant. A week before his suspension, Clinton-Dix was excellent against Ole Miss in deep coverage on the Rebels' talented wide receivers. He had eight tackles and was very active.
8/18/13: Clinton-Dix had a breakout season in 2012 as a platoon player following Mark Barron's departure for the NFL. Clinton-Dix totaled 37 tackles with five interceptions, four passes broken up and a forced fumble.
Clinton-Dix is very good in pass coverage as a deep defender and roving free safety. He covers a lot of ground, defends big receivers and has ball skills. The junior is expected to be the difference-maker in the Alabama secondary this year now that Robert Lester has moved on to the NFL, too.
The Crimson Tide has produced a lot of good defensive backs, and Clinton-Dix looks like the next star to come out of Alabama's secondary with his combination of size and speed. The Orlando, Florida product was top recruit coming out of high school.
Calvin Pryor*, S, Louisville
Height: 5-11. Weight: 207. 40 Time: 4.58. Projected Round (2014): 1. 5/5/14: Sources have said that Pryor could slide into the 20s because he is not an elite athlete. Teams that want a strong safety type will like Pryor, while the teams that need a center fielder will prefer Clinton-Dix. Pryor is a hard-hitter and a good run-defender. He also could help to cover tight ends. As the eighth man in the box, Pryor should be a nice weapon to stop an opposing team's rushing attacks.
Pryor was a play-maker for Louisville in 2013 as a hard-hitting safety who had a habit of creating turnovers. The junior amassed 75 tackles, three interceptions, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles on the season. Pryor is fast and has good size to defend tight ends and big receivers. The force of his hits caused a lot of fumbles over his career.
Pryor measured in smaller than listed at the Combine, but he matched Clinton-Dix in the 40 with a 4.58-second time. Pryor wasn't as smooth in the field drills, but he held his own. Pryor didn't do anything to hurt his stock at the Combine.
Pryor notched 100 tackles and five forced fumbles in 2012. He was a Second-Team All-Big East selection for that performance. Pryor broke into the lineup as a freshman in 2011 with 43 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Personal: Son Monique Turrell and Calvin Pryor. Majoring in communications.
Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Height: 5-11. Weight: 193. Projected 40 Time: 4.61. Projected Round (2014): 1-2. 4/5/14: Sources told WalterFootball.com that they think Ward is a good player, but his size limitations are ruling him out for them. He looks likely to go in the second round, although some project him as a potential late first-rounder.
For the NFL, Ward would fit as a free safety. He isn't the biggest safety, but he is adept in pass coverage. Ward showcased his nice coverage ability at the Senior Bowl. He could help to defend slot receivers in the NFL. Ward proved in college that he's a good tackler and could function as the last line of defense.
Ward totaled 95 tackles with seven interceptions and 10 passes defended in 2013. He has nice instincts and ball skills to defend the deep part of the field. Ward didn't run at the Combine.
Even though Ward isn't that big, he is a reliable tackler. In 2012, he led Northern Illinois with 104 tackles and three interceptions. Ward had 100 tackles in 2011 with an interception and four passes broken up.
Personal: A general studies major. Son of Torcivia and Derrick Daniels.
Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 211. 40 Time: 4.49. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Bucannon has a nice mix of ball skills, run-support tackling and hard-hitting ability. In 2013, the senior assembled six interceptions with 114 tackles, three forced fumbles and one pass broken up. He had a solid performance at the Senior Bowl and ran faster than expected at the Combine.
For the NFL, Bucannon would probably be best as a strong safety. He is a natural as the eighth man in the box. However, Bucannon has enough ball skills and coverage ability to play some free safety.
Bucannon recorded four interceptions, four passes broken up, one forced fumble, and 106 tackles in 2012. He had three interceptions, 80 tackles and four passes broken up in 2011.
Personal: Son of Duane and Sonji.
Dion Bailey*, S, USC
Height: 6-0. Weight: 201. 40 Time: 4.66. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: At the Combine, Bailey ran slower than expected, but he looked better in the field drills. Sources say that Bailey didn't make up for the slow 40 at his pro day. WalterFootball.com knows some teams that like Bailey and consider him an option for their second-round pick.
Bailey remained a play-maker in 2013 despite moving back to safety. He recorded five interceptions with 62 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss, .5 sacks and six passes broken up on the season. Bailey had a big game against Stanford to help pull off an upset for the Trojans. He was all over the field against Derek Carr and Fresno State in USC's Las Vegas Bowl win.
8/18/13: The speedy and instinctive Bailey is a very good pass-defender. He was a good Will linebacker in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 at USC in 2012, totaling 80 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, four interceptions and five passes broken up. Bailey had 81 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks as a freshman in 2011. He has ballhawk ability and is back to playing safety in 2013. If that doesn't go well, Bailey could add weight to play outside linebacker in the NFL. He is competing for a starting position.
Personal: Policy, planning and development major.
Craig Loston, S, LSU
Height: 5-11. Weight: 217. Projected 40 Time: 4.63. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Loston totaled 57 tackles, three passes broken up, three interceptions and four tackles for a loss in 2013. He didn't play well against Georgia, but was better versus Florida. Loston also played well against Alabama, Texas A&M and Iowa. He followed it up with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl.
Loston would function best as a strong safety, but at the Senior Bowl, he showed some coverage ability to function in the deep part of the field. If Loston is drafted by a team that uses its safeties interchangeably, he could require more developmental time to continue to improve his pass coverage so he can defend speed receivers testing a defense vertically.
8/18/13: Loston replaced Brandon Taylor in the starting lineup in 2012 and had an impressive debut. Loston was named a Second-Team All-SEC selection after making 55 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one pass broken up and three interceptions. The Tigers are expecting him to lead their secondary after losing Eric Reid to the NFL. Loston could be even better as a senior and has the potential to rise up the rankings.
Personal: Majoring in general studies. Son of Jackie Henderson-Robertson.
Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
Height: 5-11. Weight: 198. 40 Time: 4.42. Projected Round (2014): 2-3. 5/5/14: Brooks had 56 tackles with two interceptions, five passes broken up and two forced fumbles in 2013. He played well for the Seminoles while showing good instincts and a nose for the football. Brooks left the game against Miami with a concussion. That caused him to be held out against Wake Forest.
Brooks finished the year well and had a quality week at the Senior Bowl. He then excelled at the Combine and blazed an ultra-fast 40 time. If Brooks were larger, he would go earlier. WalterFootball.com knows some teams that are targeting Brooks on Day 2.
8/18/13: Brooks led a talented Florida State secondary in tackles while recording 51 tackles, two interceptions, four passes broken up and one forced fumble. It was his first season of significant playing time as he had previously been a backup. Brooks had just 17 tackles in 2011. The Seminoles will need him to build on his performance and lead their safeties this season since the team is moving Lamarcus Joyner to cornerback.
Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
Height: 6-0. Weight: 212. 40 Time: 4.41. Projected Round (2014): 3-4. 5/5/14: Dixon played well in 2013 with 81 tackles, six passes broken up and an interception. He was a solid play-maker in the Bears' defense. Dixon has good instincts and is always around the ball. He is a physical player and could be prone to penalties in the NFL. Dixon held his own at the Senior Bowl and ran surprisingly quickly at the Combine. That performance in Indianapolis opened some eyes.
8/18/13: Dixon is a fast and physical player who has played a hybrid linebacker and safety position for the Bears. He finished third on the team in tackles last season with 102. The junior also contributed two interceptions, three passes broken up, 5.5 tackles for a loss and a sack. Like the rest of the Bears' defense, Dixon had some struggles with West Virginia. However, he was impressive against TCU and Kansas State.
Dixon had 89 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, three passes broken up and an interception in 2011.
Personal: An exploratory major. Son of Lisa and Allen Dixon.
Ed Reynolds*, S, Stanford
Height: 6-1. Weight: 207. 40 Time: 4.57. Projected Round (2014): 3-5. 5/5/14: Reynolds started the 2013 season in impressive fashion with 12 tackles and an interception against San Jose State, but that was his only pick of the year. He had a clutch pass breakup to finish off a win over Oregon State. Reynolds had a bad outing against Arizona State as he was beaten for two touchdowns and ejected from the game for targeting.
Reynolds had a number of mixed games for the Cardinal and should have returned to school to improve before going pro. In 2013, he had 87 tackles, one interception and four passes broken up. Reynolds didn't impress at the Combine. WalterFootball.com knows teams that don't think Reynolds is a good prospect and won't draft him.
8/18/13: Reynolds was one of the top safeties in college football in 2012. The junior had six interceptions with five passes broken up and 37 tackles. It was his first season as a starter.
Reynolds has a nice skill set with good size and speed. What really stood out in last year were his good instincts to make impact plays. Stanford should have a nice pass rush from its front seven, so Reynolds could be in position to have another big season causing turnovers in 2013. He needs to improve on his tackling and run defense. Reynolds missed the 2011 season with an injury.
Personal: Majoring in political science. Son of Pamela and Ed Reynolds. His father played for the New England Patriots from 1983-1991 and one season with the New York Giants (1992).
Dezmen Southward, S, Wisconsin
Height: 6-0. Weight: 211. Projected 40 Time: 4.55. Projected Round (2014): 3-5. 5/5/14: Southward finished 2013 with 40 tackles, five passes broken up and an interception. He played well late in the season and at the Senior Bowl to help his draft stock. Southward didn't run at the Combine, but he has some straight-line speed.
8/18/13: Southward was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2012. He totaled 69 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, two interceptions and five passes broken up. It was Southward's first full season as a starter and he could be better in 2013. Southward recorded a total of 43 tackles as a backup during his sophomore and freshman seasons.
Personal: An agricultural business major. Son of Caprice Southward and Eli Rasheed. His stepfather, Eli, is the defensive line coach at Toledo.
Vinnie Sunseri*, S, Alabama
Height: 5-11. Weight: 210. Projected 40 Time: 4.69. Projected Round (2014): 4-6. 5/5/14: WalterFootball.com knows some teams like Sunseri for Day 3, but they view him as more of a backup safety and special teams contributor.
Sunseri recorded 20 tackles, a tackle for a loss, four passes broken up and two interceptions returned for touchdowns in 2013. The first pick came against Virginia Tech with a 38-yard return, while the second takeaway was against Texas A&M with a 73-yard return. His score against the Aggies was the play of the day in Alabama's 49-42 win. Sunseri still needs to work on his pass coverage and ability to play in the deep part of the field.
After an injury in late October. Sunseri had to have surgery to repair knee ligaments. Alabama missed him on defense and special teams. Sunseri should have returned for his senior year, but he entered the 2014 NFL Draft. Scouts ripped the decision, but some felt Sunseri did that because he was worried of being beaten out for playing time at Alabama.
8/18/13: Sunseri had a solid debut season in 2012, but was overshadowed by HaHa Clinton-Dix. The duo combined to replace Mark Barron and the play of Sunseri and Clinton-Dix left Alabama's defense not missing a beat. In fact, the secondary was even better. Sunseri was used more for his run defense. He had 52 tackles (34 solo) and six tackles for a loss. Sunseri notched three passes broken up and two interceptions as well.
With Robert Lester moving on to the NFL, Sunseri should combine with Clinton-Dix to give Alabama an excellent safety combination in 2013. Sunseri is a natural football player with instincts.
Personal: Son of Sal Sunseri, former Alabama linebackers coach and currently the defensive coordinator at Tennessee.
Tre Boston, S/CB, North Carolina
Height: 6-0. Weight: 204. 40 Time: 4.59. Projected Round (2014): 4-5. 5/5/14: Boston amassed 94 tackles, five interceptions and eight passes broken up in 2013. He had some good moments against South Carolina and followed that up with an interception against Middle Tennessee State. The senior put together a mixed performance against Miami. Boston had a good week at the East-West Shrine.
8/17/13: Boston has played both cornerback and safety for North Carolina. He has been a solid player for the Tar Heels the past two seasons. Boston racked up 70 tackles, three interceptions, two passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2011. He improved as a junior with four interceptions, six passes batted and 86 tackles. Boston's ability to play corner and safety could make him very intriguing for NFL teams.
Personal: Communications major. Son of Iris DeHoyos.
Antone Exum, S, Virginia Tech
Height: 6-0. Weight: 213. 40 Time: 4.59. Projected Round (2013): 4-6. 5/5/14: Exum played in just two games in 2013. He only started playing again late in the year and recorded three tackles. An ankle injury caused him to miss multiple games late in the season. Exum ran well in the 40 at the Combine, but didn't look 100 percent in the field drills. He looks too stiff to play corner and is a better fit for safety. Exum could use a redshirt year in the NFL to get fully healthy before competing. Considering his performance in 2012 and 2011, he could end up being a steal.
8/17/13: Exum has split time at corner and safety during his collegiate career. He had a strong 2012 season playing cornerback and was a Second-Team All-ACC selection. Exum led Virginia Tech with five interceptions while also recording 16 passes broken up, two forced fumbles and 48 tackles. He played safety for the Hokies the year before and recorded 89 tackles with 10 passes batted, one interception and two forced fumbles.
After an ACL tear this year, Exum is expected to miss some time in the early portion of the season. Still, Virginia Tech and Exum are hopeful that he will play in 2013. Exum is a versatile player who could be used as hybrid safety/corner in the NFL.
Personal: Has already graduated with a degree in finance. Son of Barbara and Antone Exum, Sr.
Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Height: 6-0. Weight: 207. 40 Time: 4.70. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Ladler had some rough moments in Vanderbilt's season-opening loss to Ole Miss. He was otherwise solid as a senior. Ladler totaled 91 tackles, five forced fumbles with five interceptions and four passes broken up in 2013. He had two forced fumbles and an interception against Texas A&M. Sources have indicated that Ladler is looking like a late-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He didn't have a bad Senior Bowl, but didn't impress at the Combine.
8/18/13: Ladler was very good for Vanderbilt in 2012. He is an instinctive and gritty player who flies around the field and is always around the ball. Ladler is impossible to ignore when watching the Commodores.
Ladler led Vanderbilt with 90 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one pass broken up, one interception and one forced fumble last season. He totaled 53 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one interception in 2011.
Personal: Son of Erica and Kenneth Ladler.
Isaiah Lewis, S, Michigan State
Height: 5-10. Weight: 211. 40 Time: 4.60. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Lewis recorded 58 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes batted in 2013. He was a solid defender for the Spartans and had a respectable performance at the Combine.
8/18/13: Lewis was an All-Big Ten honorable mention last year after he totaled 80 tackles with six passes broken up and two interceptions. Lewis entered the starting lineup in 2011 and had a quality season for the Spartans. The sophomore was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media. He totaled 74 tackles with four interceptions, three passes broken up and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Lewis formed a nice duo with Trenton Robinson that year.
Personal: Majoring in psychology. Son of Lorenzo and JoAnn Lewis.
Alden Darby, S, Arizona State
Height: 5-11. Weight: 192. Projected 40 Time: 4.50. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Darby collected 72 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes broken up in 2013. He played well for Arizona State. Darby had some good moments at the East-West Shrine but didn't participate in the Combine.
8/18/13: Darby entered Arizona State as an athlete and found a home at safety. He saw his first significant action as a sophomore in 2011 and totaled 51 tackles with three passes broken up and three interceptions. Darby improved his play last year, notching 80 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, four passes broken up and three interceptions. He is fast, but could use more strength for the NFL.
Personal: An exploratory major.
Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 205. Projected 40 Time: 4.53. Projected Round (2014): 5-7. 5/5/14: Whitley collected five interceptions, two passes broken up and 55 tackles in 2013. He had a big game against Auburn with two interceptions. Whitley also played well against Texas A&M and its high-powered passing attack. He didn't take part in the Combine.
8/18/13: Whitley had an impressive 2012 season coming off an ACL injury. The junior made 88 tackles with three interceptions and one forced fumble. He showed a lot of improvements as a run-defender and continued to display the ability to create turnovers.
Whitley had only 34 tackles in 2011, but he showed off some ball skills with four interceptions. Whitley's production could have been even better, but he missed the last four games of the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon against Alabama. If Whitley can stay healthy in 2013 and resume his ballhawking ways, he could rise up the rankings.
Personal: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Nickoe Whitley
Sean Parker, S, Washington
Height: 5-10. Weight: 190. Projected 40 Time: 4.62. Projected Round (2014): 6-FA. 5/5/14: Parker played well in 2013 with 67 tackles, four interceptions and four passes broken up. He didn't participate in the Combine.
8/18/13: Parker is a 2-year starter and was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2012. He totaled 77 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles, four passes defensed and two interceptions. Price had 91 tackles with two passes broken up and four interceptions in 2011.
Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 204. Projected 40 Time: 4.65. Projected Round (2014): 6-FA. 5/5/14: In 2013, Zimmerman totaled 75 tackles with three interceptions and four passes broken up. He returned his first pick 32 yards against Louisiana-Lafayette. Zimmerman didn't attend the Combine.
8/18/13: Zimmerman has been an impact player over all three of his years at Kansas State. He started 12 games in 2010 as a freshman and totaled 74 tackles, four tackles for a loss, three interceptions and three passes broken up.
Zimmerman had 58 tackles with five passes broken up and two interceptions in 2011. Last year was his best season as he snagged five interceptions to go along with 50 tackles and two passes defensed. Zimmerman isn't the biggest or fastest safety, but he has good instincts and is intelligent.
Personal: Majoring in general studies. Son of Stefanie and Randall Zimmerman.
Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
Height: 6-1. Weight: 187. Projected 40 Time: 4.56. Projected Round (2014): 6-FA. 5/5/14: Smith had a total of 45 tackles, five passes broken up and three interceptions in 2013. Teammate Calvin Pryor eclipsed Smith, but Smith still played well for Louisville. He didn't participate in the Combine.
8/18/13: Smith had another solid season for Louisville in 2012. He recorded 73 tackles, seven passes broken up, a forced fumble and zero interceptions.
Smith is a good tackler and run-defender. He was a First-Team All-Big East selection in 2011. The sophomore had a big impact for Louisville's defense, totaling 84 tackles with nine passes broken up, three forced fumbles and one interception.
Smith broke into the lineup in 2010 and was named the Big East Rookie of the Year. He recorded 88 tackles (62 solo), six tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Smith would be higher if he showed more ball skills and an ability to pick off passes.
Personal: Computer science major. Son of Sheri and Craig McCobb.
C.J. Barnett, S, Ohio State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 202. Projected 40 Time: 4.55. Projected Round (2014): 7-FA. 5/5/14: Barnett recorded 84 tackles with five passes broken up and four interceptions in 2013. He had some ugly plays in the Big Ten Championship against Michigan State. Barnett didn't participate in the Combine.
8/18/13: Barnett had 56 tackles, two interceptions, 2.5 tackles for a loss and six passes broken up in 2012, despite missing three games with an ankle injury. He is a hard hitter and a good run-defender.
Barnett racked up 75 tackles, two interceptions and six passes broken up in 2011. The sophomore was solid, but unspectacular, in what was his first full season starting. He could make strides as a senior and rise up the rankings.
Personal: Majoring in criminology. Son of Yolanda and Tom Buskey.