Post Draft Scouting Report: Duke Dawson, CB

Dawson is a versatile defender who could see the field early as the Patriots nickel corner.

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken

Trader Bill made a variety of trades on Day 2 of the draft, mostly moving down to acquire later picks or for picks in next years draft. He did make one trade up however, and that was to get Duke Dawson, the Corner out of Florida. In a draft where it seemed the Patriots really didn’t like the talent, it is telling that the team would move up to grab a specific player. Dawson was a guy I had targeted as a potential Patriot before the draft and I think his skill set fits in nicely with what the team already has on the roster. Now that he is actually on the team, let’s take a look at what he brings to the table.

Prior to the draft, I put Dawson in the Cornerback big board section. Here is what I wrote on him:

Dawson is a really smooth athlete with good change of direction. He has a smooth backpedal and and fluid hips to turn and run without loss of momentum. He is a tough player who fights through blocks and is willing to come up and make tackles. He has lots of experience at multiple positions. He gets on the hip of receivers and stays with them throughout the route. He has playmaker ability with the ball in his hand, returning 3 interceptions for touchdowns. His timed speed was faster than how fast he played on tape and there were times WR’s got past him. He is another CB with less than ideal physical traits. His ultimate role in NFL might be inside. Grade: 3rd Round

Overall, I had Dawson as the 74th best player in the draft, so I am not going to quibble over a nine spot difference from where I had him ranked to where he was taken. The one surprise for me was that the Patriots took Dawson over Isaiah Oliver, who went just two picks after. Clearly the team saw a bigger need at the slot corner position, which Dawson should excel at.

What does the tape show?

After the selection, I went back to the tape to see how Dawson can find a role on this team. Here are some additional thoughts on him.

Positives:

One thing that continued throughout my film review of Dawson was just how smooth he is. He looks comfortable in his back pedal and has slippery hips to change direction or to turn and run with receivers. He plays with a feisty attitude which borders on cocky, which I like. He is a tough player who isn’t afraid to come up and make hits. He was a guy Florida used in a variety of ways and I could see the Patriots moving him around too. That might be one thing I just didn’t put enough emphasis on in my first go around. The Patriots are a week to week scheme diverse team that players must feel comfortable playing different roles week in and week out. That is one thing I am confident Dawson can do.

Negatives:

He is aggressive and that can get him in trouble. He does not seem comfortable when he has to chase the receiver and look for the ball. There is some panic in those deep routes and that is where he gets too handsy with Receivers. I didn’t catch this until after the draft, but he is an emotional guy on the field and it can get away from him, like it did vs. LSU this year. I feel like that is what got Cyrus Jones in trouble here and I would hate to see that happen to another 2nd round Corner.

Overall:

I would not call Dawson a twitchy athlete, but he does react quickly to what he sees and he has the field awareness to put himself in good position to make plays. He is so smooth in his transitions that he is an ideal nickel corner. I love his toughness and his versatility and as long as he can cut down on the overaggressive nature in his game, he could see playing time early for the Patriots.

What I like about this play is that Dawson’s awareness. He sees the delayed screen being set up and he comes off the in cut route to come up and tackle the Runningback. My only issue is that I would like to see him wrap up there instead of shoulder tackling the guy.

 

Here Dawson gets a nice jam on the slot receiver and then mirrors the route and breaks up the play. Dawson gets his hands on a lot of balls and probably should have had more interceptions in his career than he did.

This is a tough play for any CB, but Dawson shows excellent play recognition and acceleration to get across the field and keep this play to a minimal gain. Again, I would like to see him wrap up in this situation, but he has perfected that should cut tackle.

 

This play right here might embody why the Patriots liked and selected Dawson. His ability to click and close on the receiver and to make a timely hit is something the team has always looked for in the DB’s. Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler made these types of plays all the time. The Patriots love guys who do not give up yards after catch, and that is something Dawson excels at.

 

Here is a play I was talking about in his negatives. If he just would turn to locate the ball, I think he had the position to make a play on that ball. Instead, he extends his arms and is looking to grab the receiver, who was still able to make a play.

I was going to include these stats above, but PFF went and made it all pretty, so I will use it instead.

You gotta love this. He fights through a WR block and puts a big hit on the ball carrier.

 

Final Thoughts:

I really like the fit of Dawson into this backfield. I think he even could play some Free Safety in a pinch. He has a great mentality for the position and I think he will fight for playing time early as the nickel corner. He has some issues to clean up and I was surprised at the time that he was the pick considering who was still on the board, but the nickel corner spot has become an integral part of this defense and Dawson has the skill set to take over that spot for the Patriots early in his career.

 

6 Responses to “Post Draft Scouting Report: Duke Dawson, CB”

  1. brandon maxham says:

    I like Dawson more after watching some tape on him and I hope he can play the slot as a rookie then slowly take the role of Richards after that.

  2. kevinz says:

    off topic but DT brown and shelton along with WR Dorsett did not get there options picked up

  3. kevinz says:

    Like Dawson now more than at first. I see alot of he a slant an RPO eraser i think with how much Pats struggles defending each one Dawson really caught the Pats eye.

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