Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Brennan Clay (24) carries the ball between Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Cyrus Jones (5) and defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6) in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Oklahoma defeated Alabama 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

NFL 2014 Mock Draft: Todd McShay Says Cowboys Will Play It Safe

Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back HaHa Clinton-Dix.

When talking about the best of the best in NFL Draft analyst, a handful of names come to mind. And ESPN has two of the best going head-to-head everyday in draft veteran Mel Kiper Jr. and the up-and-coming Todd McShay. The latter has just released his latest mock draft. And in it, McShay predicts the Dallas Cowboys will play it safe with their first round pick by filling a need in their defensive backfield. Here’s his pick for Dallas along with his analysis of the selection:

With the 17th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select…

HaHa Clinton-Dix, Safety – Alabama

“The Cowboys’ biggest need area is their pass rush (they ranked last in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt), but it might be reaching at this point to draft a D-lineman like Missouri’s Kony Ealy or Pitt’s Aaron Donald. But safety is also a clear position of weakness — particularly in coverage — and the best one in this class is Clinton-Dix. He doesn’t have elite man-to-man coverage skills but has good range in zone and is an aggressive, efficient run supporter. Safety is becoming a more important position in the NFL with the increased usage of spread formations, bigger wide receivers and athletic “F” tight ends.”

Although not their biggest area of need, getting the top safety in the draft can do nothing but help the worst defense in Cowboys history. Clinton-Dix combines a very physical play-style with top end athletic ability. Walter Football ranks him at #16 in their latest big board for 2014. Here’s what they had to say about HaHa:

“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 rare combination of size and speed.”

Along with starting free safety Barry Church, the Cowboys currently have three young safeties already on their roster. Their 2013 third round pick, J.J. Wilcox, will attempt to improve a upon a fairly disappointing rookie campaign. Undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Heath will look to build on a turbulent season that saw him struggle to make the tough transition from Saginaw Valley to the NFL. And oft-injured safety Matt Johnson will attempt to finally see some regular season action after being the Cowboys fourth round pick in 2012.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys ESPN Mel Kiper Jr. Mock Draft Todd McShay

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