GREEN BAY—You wanted him. You got him.
It’s a pick Packers fans wanted to make in January, after the 2013 season ended with Packers safeties having intercepted no passes, which immediately sent Packers fans scurrying through the first edition of draft preview books, searching for a prospect that would address the Packers’ most desperate need. Ha’sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, it was decided, was the man.
Thursday night, Packers General Manager Ted Thompson agreed with the fans. Ha Ha is indeed the man who will address the Packers’ need at safety.
“Real all-purpose kind of safety. He’s shown ability to cover guys in the slot. Physical player. We think he’s got very, very good ball skills,” Thompson said shortly after making Clinton-Dix the 21st overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft.
Here’s what’s most important about the Ha Ha pick: Thompson got the best available player he needs, the Packers defense got the safety it needs, and the fans got a player that had become a four-month obsession.
“It fits very well for us. We felt like he was the best player on the board,” Thompson said.
Ha Ha fits so well for everyone that Thompson decided to give the Alabama star Charles Woodson’s old No. 21 to wear. Why not?
Is it possible expectations for Ha Ha are the equal of what they were for Woodson when the Packers signed him in free agency in 2006? Ha Ha had become nearly a daily staple in packers.com’s “Ask Vic” column. Fans more than suggested the Packers draft him; they all but demanded it.
“I know it’s probably too early, but if Clinton-Dix is available at 21, wouldn’t this be a perfect marriage of need and value?” That question was asked by a reader on Jan. 13, eight days after the Packers lost to the 49ers in the playoffs.
“The consensus appears to be the best player the Packers can draft in the first round would be Ha Ha Clinton-Dix,” a fan wrote on Jan. 21.
April 28 -- “This weekend, I saw a picture that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix posted of himself wearing a Packers shirt. Any chance it’s a message that means Thompson is going to trade up for him?”
Thompson didn’t even have to trade up. How about that? Maybe Ha Ha was sending a message to Thompson.
The only soft moment in Ha Ha mania occurred at the combine, after Ha Ha ran a rather disappointing 4.62 40. The trauma quickly wore off, however, and the Ha Ha train was rolling down the tracks again.
“That’s not our time,” Thompson said, though he didn’t offer what the Packers’ time on Ha Ha was. We can only assume it was better than 4.62.
If the fans had been timing him, Ha Ha would’ve set a world record. He had become their singular obsession. They flirted with Calvin Pryor, but when he shrunk three inches at the combine, Ha Ha was back in command.
“He’s got very good upside. We had good success with a Crimson Tide kid we took last year,” Thompson said, obviously referring to second-round pick Eddie Lacy.
Might Ha Ha do for the Packers’ defense what Lacy did for the offense? If he does, Packers fans deserve the credit. They made the pick and didn’t have to wait four months to do it.
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