February 24, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Top safeties at combine offer contrast in styles

Calvin Pryor, here intercepting a pass in the end zone during the game against the Central Florida Knights, is considered better against the run. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Indianapolis — Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is a bone-crushing tackler. Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a quick player who’s confident in his coverage skills.

With Louis Delmas released, the Lions need to find a safety this offseason, and if they consider grabbing one with the No. 10 pick in May’s draft it will likely come down to Pryor or Clinton-Dix.

Both players touted themselves as versatile safeties Sunday at the NFL combine, but for now, Pryor is considered stronger against the run while Clinton-Dix is better against the pass.

“C.P. is a great player,” Clinton-Dix said. “He plays fast, he’s always around the ball, he can hit. He’s a physical performer. If I compared myself, I’d say I’m quicker than him. I can’t say I can hit like him because he’s a big hitter.”

Pryor hits so hard that he knocked a player out in three straight games, but he said he’s not going to change his style.

“I’m just going to be myself and I’m just still going to stay aggressive and just play like my hair’s on fire,” he said.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said this week the team will need more sacks in 2014 than the 33 it had last year, but he doesn’t think a pass rusher is a pressing need. Instead, he thinks the Lions can improve their pass rush with a better secondary that gives the front four more time to reach the quarterback.

In addition to the top two prospects, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said he likes Florida State’s LaMarcus Joyner and Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward. But beyond them, the depth at the position isn’t great.

So if the Lions hope to find their long-term answer at safety this May, they might have to grab one early.

“If I had my 10 favorite players just because of watching them on tape, Calvin Pryor is one of them,” Mayock said Sunday at the NFL combine. “He’s like a bigger Bob Sanders. I think he’s better in the box.”

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Clinton Dix being selected 17th and Pryor at No. 21, but there could still be some movement, especially after they go through physical testing at the combine today and Tuesday.