It’s the calm before the storm.
With the combine and pro days all wrapped up, and free agency winding down, it’s time to play the waiting game until the 2014 NFL draft gets rolling on May 8.
That hardly means there’s nothing to talk about, however. We’ve got an entire month to speculate about this year’s incoming rookie class, including college football’s top defensive stars.
We’ve already hit the
, so let’s wrap up our look at best and worst-case IDP landing spots for this year’s rookie class by peering into the murky cloud that is trying to figure out defensive backs.
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
With Yeremiah Bell reportedly set to retire and Tyrann Mathieu coming back from a torn ACL, there’s more than a little uncertainty at the back end of the Arizona defense. At least one draftnik believes the Cardinals may look to address that uncertainty by adding Louisville safety Calvin Pryor.
Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports writes of the Cardinals making Pryor the 20th overall pick, saying, “Pryor is a hard-hitting safety and a Day 1 starter. Pryor was in on 218 tackles in 38 games. He also forced nine fumbles and picked off seven passes.”
More importantly to IDP owners, a landing spot in Arizona would likely mean a starting job at strong safety (and potential IDP DB2 value) right out of the gate.
It may seem a bit odd for the Baltimore Ravens to go the safety route in the first round for a second consecutive year. However, one of Kirwan’s colleagues at CBS thinks that could happen.
Dane Brugler wrote of the pick, “Could the Ravens go safety in back-to-back years? Why not, that’s one possibility with James Ihedigbo not coming back. Pairing Pryor with Matt Elam would give Baltimore options in the deep half.”
That may be all well and good for the Ravens and even Pryor, but coach John Harbaugh also showed last year with Elam that he won’t rush a young player onto the field who isn’t ready, and that would add more than a little uncertainty to Pryor’s short-term fantasy outlook.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
From an IDP perspective, Clinton-Dix faces something of an uphill battle in the NFL. Not because he isn’t a very talented young defensive back, but because of the way he’ll probably be utilized at the professional level. However, there are a few stops where Clinton-Dix might be able to buck those odds, including Pittsburgh.
Defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau’s “Blitzburgh” defense with the Steelers is all about sending players flying towards the line of scrimmage from all over the place, and the result was solid IDP production from free safety Ryan Clark (who moved on in free agency) each of the past two years.
Of course, the presence of free agent signee Mike Mitchell also makes this quite the longshot, although Todd McShay’s latest mock draft at ESPN has Clinton-Dix bound for Western Pennsylvania.
If Pittsburgh is a favorable (albeit somewhat unlikely) destination for Clinton-Dix, Dallas is a more likely landing spot. Unfortunately, it’s also much less appealing to IDP owners. Yes, Clinton-Dix, who
Bleacher Report NFL National Lead Writer Matt Miller
wrote is “just as likely to lay out a ball-carrier as he is to pick off an errant pass,” would all but certainly be a Day 1 starter for the Cowboys.
The problem is the presence of strong safety Barry Church (who led the team in tackles a year ago) and a scheme where Clinton-Dix would be playing deep a lot
. It’s a role the 6-foot-1, 208-pounder would probably thrive in, but it would also significantly cap Clinton-Dix’s IDP upside.