INDIANAPOLIS -- Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor, regarded as the top two safety prospects available in the NFL draft, ran identical 4.58 40-yard dashes at the NFL Scouting Combine Tuesday.
Separating the two hasn't been easy for scouts entering the combine, and the same official 40 times won't make it any easier coming out of it, either. The smallest of margins could manifest into the biggest of differences where the rookie contracts of the two prospects are concerned. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah had the pair ranked extremely close entering the combine, Pryor as the No. 15 overall prospect and Clinton-Dix as the No. 16. Fellow analyst Bucky Brooks has Clinton-Dix (No. 17) rated slightly higher than Pryor (No. 20). But that certainly doesn't mean the two will be chosen in the draft with back-to-back picks, and if a significant number of picks separate the two, the way teams in need of a safety perceive Pryor and Clinton-Dix could make a major financial difference for both.
Clinton-Dix is regarded as the better prospect in coverage, while Pryor, according to NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock is more of an "inside the box" safety. Speed might, thus, figure to be a slightly more important attribute for Clinton-Dix, and he noted at the combine that his ability to handle slot receivers in man coverage and play a variety of roles in the secondary should propel him on draft boards.
What may matter more, however, is whether the first team prepared to draft a safety in the first round prefers a strong safety type (Pryor) or a free safety type (Clinton-Dix).
The race is on between these two, but it's not just a footrace.
Other notable 40-yard dash times from the safeties:
Terrence Brooks, Florida State: 4.42 (best among safeties).
Dion Bailey, USC: 4.66.
Jonathan Dowling, Western Kentucky: 4.52.
Brock Vereen, Minnesota: 4.47.
Craig Loston, LSU: 4.65.
Ed Reynolds, Stanford: 4.57.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.