Wednesday, February 26, 2014
More post-combine safety chatter
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- Post-combine mock drafts by CBS Sports' draft analysts Dane Brugler and Rob Rang have the Pittsburgh Steelers taking a safety with their first pick -- albeit different ones.
Brugler has the Steelers selecting Louisville's Calvin Pryor, and Rang has them taking Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at No. 15 overall.
Brugler has the Steelers picking Pryor -- even with Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans still on his board. Rang has Evans going a couple of picks before the Steelers in the first round.
Neither Pryor nor Clinton-Dix ran great in the 40-yard dash -- each posted official times of 4.58 seconds Tuesday in Indianapolis -- but of course, that is only one component of the combine. I'm not sure the Steelers will think either is worth taking so high in the draft, but Clinton-Dix appears to be a better fit for them if they do use their first-round selection on a safety.
Clinton-Dix is the more prototypical free safety, and the Steelers have more of a need there with Ryan Clark unlikely to return to Pittsburgh and 2013 fourth-round pick Shamarko Thomas more suited to eventually succeed Troy Polamalu at strong safety.
If the Steelers opt to take a safety later in the draft, Florida State's Terrence Brooks (more on Brooks) and Southern Cal's Dion Bailey are two players that may interest them.
Bailey has a connection to the Steelers as defensive backs coach Carnell Lake tried recruit him when the latter coached at UCLA.
“Me and him have a very strong relationship,” Bailey said of Lake. “Then he was at (UCLA) pro day last year. He led the (defensive backs) drills so I talked to him for about an hour and he was giving me advice about what to expect making the transition (to safety) and what I needed to do.”
Indeed, Bailey played outside linebacker at USC for two seasons before making the transition to safety.
He only ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash at the combine, a time he will try to improve on next month at USC's pro day, but he is an intriguing mid-round prospect for a couple of reasons.
In college, Bailey was productive -- he recorded 222 tackles and intercepted 11 passes in three seasons -- and he played all over the field.
The 6-foot, 202-pounder should have some upside as a safety since he only played the position one year in college, and Bailey compared himself to another USC product whose skill set defies scheme.
“I feel like my game resembles Troy Polamalu's game very well,” Bailey said. “He went through the same transition in college as me, playing linebacker his first couple years and then playing safety He transitioned to the NFL really well. I'm hoping I have the same career.”