Happy New Year! There is a lot to look forward to in 2015 and it starts in just a few hours when the first round of the college football playoffs begins. There are so many intriguing bowl games on today, but one that was supposed to be a good game yesterday ended up being a blowout for TCU. In the midst of that blowout, linebacker Paul Dawson had another great game and continues his rise up draft boards. As a graduate of a Big 12 school, I have kept a close and now envious eye on the TCU and WVU programs over the past few years. I wasn’t sure how they would fare in the Big 12, and the first two years proved to be a struggle, but today they are the two of the best programs in the conference and country. Players like Dawson have made this possible for TCU so let’s dive deeper and see how his game translates to the next level. Name: Paul Dawson
School: Texas Christian University (Sr.)
Weight: 230 Lbs.
Dawson is an impressive athlete with a non-stop motor. He has great speed and burst running both forward and sideline to sideline. He also has good lateral agility, can change direction quickly, and plays like his hair is on fire on every play. Dawson uses his impressive speed and instincts to be a threat as a blitzer and is also an above average player in coverage. He is a very good tackler especially in the open field and has a knack for coming up with big plays. In the play I highlight below, Dawson reads the play then uses his athleticism to make an interception and then shows off his impressive speed as he takes it back for a touchdown.
Dawson is another guy who is undersized for the NFL. He relies solely on his speed to get around blockers, which will not work on a consistent basis in the NFL. He will need to play in a system and scheme in the NFL that keeps him “clean.” He is extremely aggressive and at times loses his balance because of it. He is also needs to learn to keep his hands off the receiver that he’s covering or he will get a lot of penalties at the next level. Dawson struggles to disengage from blockers and must improve his overall strength. In the play below, you see that Dawson gets blown back and out of the play when the offensive lineman is able to engage him.
I wrote a report on Shaq Thompson earlier this week and if you read his report, you will notice that there are a lot of similarities between the two of them both physically as well as how they play the game. Dawson lacks the experience that Thompson has and it shows up in the small details that make Thompson the higher rated prospect. Aspects like angles on passing plays and ability to fight through blocks and work through trash do not show up on a regular basis on Dawson’s film. Dawson looks a little bigger on film, but Thompson is playing bigger right now. Having said that, I still think Dawson is a better athlete that Thompson, especially from a pure speed standpoint. Ultimately though, it will come down to preference and value. Historically the Patriots have preferred their linebackers to be bigger, but with the league changing, they may look to add a player like Dawson. From a value perspective, Dawson makes sense since it is possible to get a player similar to Thompson later in the draft. I give Dawson a Day Two draft grade with an eye on the 3rd round, but I could see his stock continue to rise up.