Sep 15, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back HaHa Clinton-Dixon (6) attempts to score after an interception against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Mock Draft: The Dallas Cowboys Select...

This week’s update to the mock draft has a new name linked to the Dallas Cowboys’ first round pick. After the initial weeks of the pick being defensive tackle, Josh Sanchez’s latest mock draft update has the Cowboys going with a talented safety. Sanchez explains:

SelectionHaHa Clinton-Dix, safety, Alabama

The Dallas Cowboys have consistently ignored the safety position. The team has addressed the secondary in past years with the additions of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, there is still a chance to improve at safety. While defensive end could be an intriguing option, the team may not be able to pass on the top safety available. Clinton-Dix is a playmaker that has been performing at a high level at Alabama and many believe that he has the skill set to make an immediate transition to the NFL.

Clinton-Dix is ranked as the top free safety in this draft. The 6-1, 208 lb junior out of Alabama is ranked as the 32nd best overall player on CBS’ Big Board. Here’s their analysis of his strengths and weakness via Rob Rang:

STRENGTHS: Clinton-Dix changes directions fluidly and accelerates smoothly. He reads the quarterback’s eyes well and breaks on the ball, showing a late burst to close downhill. He has plus hands for the interception and shows vision and natural open-field running skills with the ball in his hands. Clinton-Dix anticipates the run well, attacking the line of scrimmage to make some impressive stops up close. WEAKNESSES: Doesn’t have the preferred strength, at this time, to break free from blocks and isn’t a consistently physical tackler, electing to grab and pull down ball-carriers rather than striking them forcefully.

I’ve been pretty vocal about my uneasiness with the Cowboys current safety tandem of Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox as the future starters on this team. I’m unsure if Clinton-Dix is the answer, but he certainly would  fill that need. I think the Cowboys would have some character concerns as HaHa was suspended earlier this season for violating NCAA rules about student-athletes receiving extra benefits. As we know from the last year’s accidentally released Big Board, the Cowboys don’t even consider players with possible character flaws or injury concerns.

The Cowboys will have various needs going into 2014. The defensive line is probably at the forefront. But with players like wideout Miles Austin, linebacker Justin Durant, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and quarterback Kyle Orton as potential cap causalities this offseason, that “needs” list is most likely going to expand prior to the draft in April.

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