When the Green Bay Packers selected Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, many fans assumed he would be the day one starter at safety but after an impressive offseason and an even better start to training camp, the position could belong to Micah Hyde, not Clinton-Dix
After all, safety was one of the Packers’ weakest positions last season, as no safety on the roster was able to register an interception. Former starter M.D. Jennings was let go by with the Packers without so much as a restricted free agent tender, so it wasn’t that Green Bay didn’t want to pay him, they didn’t want him at all.
Thus, when the team spent its first-round pick on Clinton-Dix, a 6-1, 205-pound safety from Alabama that was a consensus All-American last season, it was assumed he would start, but Hyde will have something to say about that.
Hyde, a second-year man from the University of Iowa, who was chosen by Green Bay in the fifth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, played cornerback last season for the Packers but after an offseason switch to safety, he is opening eyes in training camp and making the competition for the starting spot more than just coach speak.
All offseason, head coach Mike McCarthy has talked about giving Hyde a chance to be a three-down player after an impressive rookie season that included 45 tackles, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
The plan had been to try Hyde at safety last season but it ended up not being possible due to injuries, mainly the injury to Casey Hayward that left the Packers without their top slot corner.
Now with Hayward back, the Packers have the depth to allow Hyde to focus on safety and early on in training camp he has been with the number one group and made a number of impressive plays.
Hyde stands 6-0 and weights in at around 200 pounds, so he fits the bill physically for what you would expect in a safety and one his strongest attributes is his tackling. Yet, he is also good enough to cover in the slot and has above average ball skills, so there is every reason to expect him to give Clinton-Dix everything he can handle.
Even if Hyde starts the season, it doesn’t mean Clinton-Dix won’t play and it definitely won’t mean that he’s a bust. Clay Matthews didn’t starting right away, Aaron Rodgers didn’t start for three years.
Depth is necessary in the NFL and after having arguably the worst group of the safeties in the league last season; the Packers can finally boast a little depth at the position.
Just don’t be surprised if the Hyde starts the season, he may be a better player at this moment than Clinton-Dix but it won’t last forever and one way or another, the rookie will find his way onto the field, it just might take a little longer than first imagined.