Scouting Report: Paul Dawson, LB

Could Paul Dawson be a possibility if the Patriots decide to go Linebacker in the draft?

Could Paul Dawson be a possibility if the Patriots decide to go Linebacker in the draft?

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.)

Height: 6’2″

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.

31 Responses to “Scouting Report: Paul Dawson, LB”

  1. Sully says:

    Although he’s listed at 6’2″, I’m convinced Dawson is 6’0″ at the most — still, I’m a big fan of his. If he measures any under 6’0″ at the combine, his draft stock could take a big hit. To me, size isn’t as important as production, and this guy produces. He recorded 127 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 ints, and 2 forced fumbles this season. IMO, linebacker isn’t a priority (thank you Collins and Hightower), but Dawson is a good prospect.

  2. Daniel R. Martin says:

    Oh Boy!…………. I can’t believe the buzzards luck. Our “reward” for earning the No. 1 seed is “winning” a chance to host the team that by all rights should be 3-0 against us at home in the post season. The one team with a pass rush that could very well wreak havoc on our patch work, partially inexperienced, plagued by cumbersome injuries, and recently under performing offensive line.

    Meanwhile, the Broncos will most assuredly waltz into the playoffs by handily dispatching either the Colts or Bengals.

    What’s worse is that I really despise many of the Ravens players. Suggs being chief among them. This really stinks.

    Is anyone else worried about how this is shaping up? We have to get past the Pats’-Kryptonite wielding Ravens, beat the Broncos a second time in one season, and then face either Seattle or Green Bay!

    • acm says:

      Dan, you complain too much 😉

      If last night’s game should have taught you something it’s this – history matters not, it’s all about these two teams, this year.
      No one said winning this year’s SB would be easy – to be the best, you gotta beat the best.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Right ACM, and thanks for calming me down lol. But, even if we discount half a decade of post season history, looking at these two teams right now, I’m worried. I am worried because the Pats O-Line has ranged from passable to shaky all year, up until the past two weeks where they’ve looked horrid. The 4 win jets sacked Brady 4 times in one half of football two games ago, and Nate Solder was injured in the last game. Wendell is probably still some degree of banged up, and Vollmer’s busted back could go out in any quarter. Add to that the impressive front 7 of Baltimore, and last night’s herculean effort by the much maligned Suggs, these factors could compound to create a very difficult situation. Plus, Flacco seems to be the best deep ball thrower in the league, especially in post-season play.

        I was hoping you guys would tell me to calm down, that we will win most likely, and you didn’t disappoint. But, are you guys not worried?

    • Kevan says:

      I’m really glad the Pats get Baltimore. I’m tired of hearing about them winning against the pats in previous years. Those teams on both sides of the ball were completely different. What happened in these other games have no bearing on this game next Sunday. The patriot players will have to hear this all week so I know they will be fired up. I’m not saying Bmore does not present problems, specifically the pass rush but the Patriots are clearly the better team. These games in the past that wasn’t the case. The better team doesn’t always win, but like L.Blount said, the only team that can beat the pats is the pats. Glass half full or half empty? I got my pats 31-13

    • steve earle says:

      Well Dan I must admit that Balt has always matched up well against our Pats and in spite of acm’s reassuring “other years don’t matter” approach I can’t but admit I was rooting for the Steelers last pm. I’m hoping BB will come up with a game plan that can take advantage of the ravens aggressive def style. I do believe our def can contain Balt’s Off if we can get even moderate pressure on their QB. I’m not afraid of their run game so much given how well Pitt shut that down so I’m expecting a tough game but a win if our o-line can slow down the rush on Brady.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        I hope you are right Steve. But I don’t know that BB can gameplan a way to transform Solder into an actual pro caliber left tackle, as opposed to the human turnstile he’s been. But, I do think we will win. I am just thinking that our fortunes have been diminished because now we have added an additional leg to an already uphill journey. We’ll have Ravens, then the Broncos, and then the defending Champs most likely.

      • Kevan says:

        Well Steve, it’s not really an approach it’s the truth. If the ravens happen to beat the pats it will have nothing to do with past years it will be because they played better that day. Last game The ravens had boldin,ray rice,Ray Lewis,Ed reed,Bernard pollard,Paul Kruger,art jones. Meanwhile pats had an old dieon branch,Lloyd,welker. This year Lafell and Edelman. Gronkowski did not play in that last game. A.talib played 8 snaps, chandler jones played 2 snaps. Brandon deadrick,Justin Francis,j.cunningham all played major parts in that game. Alphonso Dennard was the number 1 corner. Yea this will be a different ball game folks.

        • Kevan says:

          Food for thought. Ravens played the NFC south and AFC south this year those were the worst divisions in football. How many wins do the ravens have against winning teams this year? Good question Kevan I have the answer, 2 wins against the steelers week 2 and the wild card win, just saying…….. I can’t wait to watch Gronk throw Suggs on his back.

        • steve earle says:

          I do realize that each year is different Kevan I was just remarking on my personal sense of, well not dread but something less intense emotionally and would feel better if it were the Steelers coming in. As I expressed to Daniel With Revis and Browner our defense against the pass has to be far better then any past meetings with the Ravins so the matchups in the long passing game of Balt should be better. We still need out safetys to step up though. And like I said I think we can deal with their run game as long as we don’t sell out on our pass rush but apply decent pressure. It will come down to how our o-line preforms. Perhaps a little help from FB or TE to chip Suggs or others? I did finish my response to Dan by saying that I think we can win, and do.

        • Kevan says:

          Fair enough Steve, but I would much rather play Bmore especially if L.Bell would have been ready to go.

        • steve earle says:

          Right Kevan, and I do see your point too. It will be extra sweet to beat Balt next Sat though how much will it take out of the team when we have to face Denver the next weekend?

    • Joe Blake says:

      Wish I could talk you off the ledge DRM but I feel the same. Just think how happy you will be with a Pats win. A tough task for sure. Hopefully the Defense will contain Flacco’s deep passes coupled with the refs propensity to call PIs. I would much rather play Indi. But we got delt a bad hand and have to deal with it. Brady is overdue for a monster game….so let’s enjoy the show and hope for the best.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Here’s hoping for the best Joe. I do think the Pats are a better team. But I was always mostly worried about Denver. I know that no small degree of luck goes into winning any SB Title. However, I think it will take three stages of excellent game playing and a good bit of luck to beat the Ravens, especially the Broncos, and more than likely the defending champions. I was actually hoping the Steelers could knock off he Broncos.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Oh Kevan…..Still running that weak mouth of yours, and obviously still stalking me on here as well. What’s the matter? Did I hurt your feelings by ignoring you every time you’ve tried to buddy up and reply to my comments over the past few months. Dude, you seriously have got to stop obsessing over me. It’s gone well past uncomfortable.

        • Kevan says:

          Haha finally came out of the woodwork huh good for you. I was really thinkin you took your ball and ran home for good. As far as tryin to buddy up your crazy, never happened. I read articles then comment, that entails reading other comments. I walk forward I don’t run away.

  3. Daniel R. Martin says:

    I believe Tim Wright (who had more TD catches as a rookie than any TE in NFL history, Gronk, Hernandez, and Graham included – WHILE being thrown to by the Tampa Bay QB Circus, no less!) can be a huge piece of this offense. He enters the game and catches touchdowns and then leaves the game. I don’t quite understand that personally. Tim Wright is basically a big bodied WR with great hands, something we’ve desperately needed, but he has consistently been under utilized. I thought his signing signaled our return to the Two TE Set that was utilized so effectively in years past.

    • acm says:

      I agree on Wright being under-used outside of red-zone situations but one could expect there would be a relatively long period of adjustment to the Pats’ system given how late he joined the team in the pre-season.
      I secretly hope they see him (and thus going back to the 2-Te formation) as a secret weapon on O for the play-offs. Dump-off passes to the a 2-TE set and the RBs is one way to battle that Ravens’ pass-rush next Saturday.

    • MM-II says:

      I’d guess that a good part of what’s held Wright back from more extensive participation has been his less-than-adequate blocking effectiveness (skill level rather than willingness). Wright himself acknowledged this as an area of weakness that he’s been working on.

      Obviously, if the second TE is a good run-blocker, the ground game is more effective. And, of course, if both TEs are also good receivers, play-action out of 2TE sets is significantly enhanced. So, if Wright’s run-blocking hasn’t been quite up to par (yet), 2TE sets with him as the second TE probably haven’t confronted opposing defenses with enough guesswork to make those sets all that effective.

  4. dslave says:

    Mayos contract is a MASSIVE cap hit if they cut him or trade him. Just he’s not currently on our eye sight, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value. You can’t write him off just yet because he’s still the leader of that Defense.

    • Russell says:

      I don’t think there is anyway the Patriots let Mayo go, however he must rework his contract. I also doubt he will be ready for the start of next season, mid-season more likely.

    • MM-II says:

      It costs the Pats about $722k MORE to cut/trade Mayo than it would to keep him for 2015 – IF they do so before June 2nd. After that date, they’d save about $3.85M against the cap.

  5. Daniel R. Martin says:

    I don’t agree that we necessarily need a linebacker in this draft, especially early on. However, I like the stats on Hau’oli Kikaha (formerly Jamora). I know he’s had two blown up knees. However, unlike our former 1st rounder Easely, Kikaha has actually played two healthy seasons since his most recent knee injury. Two seasons during which he put up 31 sacks. I like the stories about his aggressive playing style. He’s currently projected to go 47th overall by CBS prospect tracker.

    • Russell says:

      I think the Patriots need more of an inside LB, thats why I like LB Jeff Luc in the 4th round.

      • MM-II says:

        Belated Happy New Year to everyone!

        IDK how much the Pats really “need” an ILB. Mayo, HT and Collins have l proven that they can play the inside and call the signals very well. While that may not be optimal usage for HT/Collins, that’s still a lot of high-quality depth.

        Behind them, there’s Casillas. He may only be ST/Reserve level, but he already seems bit more capable and versatile than Fletcher (and Chris White). And, he’ll likely remain fairly inexpensive.

        They also have James Morris on IR. He was the ILB of the “Three Musketeers” linebackers for Iowa in 2012 & 2013 that included Anthony Hitchens (2014 4th-rounder for the ‘Boys with 13 starts, 75TT and 4 PD) and Christian Kirksey (2014 3rd-rounder for the Browns, a 16-game starter with 81 TT and two sacks). Morris posted 70 TT as an Iowa freshman, then averaged 107 TT (52 solo) his next three seasons, adding 17 TFL, 7 sacks and 4 INTs as a senior.

        The Pats originally signed Morris as a UDFA, but released him (temporarily, it turned out) after his physical revealed a blood clot in his right leg (he landed on IR due to an unrelated knee injury suffered in the Pats final pre-season game).

        Last, but definitely not least, is Ayers. He had some experience at ILB/MLB in college and about a season in the middle with the Titan as well.

        Admittedly, all three are more or less question marks, but at least two of those will be resolved before the draft.

    • acm says:

      The priority of the LB position in the draft would heavily depend on whether they bring back Ayers, Cassillas and Mayo. Mayo may seem like a obvious option to be back but I wouldn’t count my chickens too early on that one – a patella tendon tear is notorious to come back from (more so than ACL/MCL injuries) and that is likely to bring his current contract into question. That is, plenty of potential pitfalls to look out for on that front.

      DB and DL are two other positions where priorities may change in time depending on who stays and who goes.

      OL is the one, most obvious position, imo, that one can single out even this early in the process as a must-improve thru FA-cy and/or the draft.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        I agree wholeheartedly ACM. Am I wrong for feeling as though the retention of Ayers is more important than keeping the oft injured Mayo?

        What are your thoughts on LB Hau’oli Kikaha and OT Spence Drango?

        • MM-II says:

          I agree with acm, too.

          Daniel – I’d go even further and say that re-signing Ayers may be critical precisely >because< Mayo has been injured a lot. While Ayers isn't quite at the level of Mayo, HT and Collins (yet), he seems at least competent or better (and very comfortable) playing LE, thru all the positions in the second-level "arc", over to RE. I'd like to see how well he does after a full off-season of Patriots coaching.

          The downside is that he may require a 4-5 year contract at $4M-$6M to stick around. Which means that the Pats would HAVE to re-negotiate Mayo's cap hits downward. Mayo is signed thru 2017 (age 31 season) for a total of $29.6M ($9.85M/year average cap hit). However, only $6M of that is guaranteed. So, the Pats could reasonably convert $5M of his $6.25M 2015 salary into bonus, re-work the his subsequent salaries into incentives (like they did with Wilfork in 2014) and extend him thru 2018. That could reduce Mayo's annual cap hit by roughly the amount needed to pay Ayers.

          In any case, if the Pats can find a way to do it, having Collins, Mayo, HT and Ayers (with Nink and Chandler in the mix at OLB/DE) together for the next couple-three seasons would make for a pretty deep, versatile and formidable (if not dominant) LB corps. If Morris comes on in 2015 the way Hitchens and Kirksey have on 2014…..

        • acm says:

          I wouldn’t give up on a proven player and leader like Mayo so quickly. There is a history of consistency in Mayo’s worth as a player in general and his importance in the Pats system specifically. The same cannot be said for a player like Ayers, even if he’s done very well since coming to Foxboro.
          I think it’s a bit early to label Mayo “unreliable” or “injury prone” just yet considering his injuries were of different nature albeit both of the season-ending variety.

          It’s normal to expect the Pats would want to adjust his contract – similar to what they did with Big Vince – due to the relative uncertainty in how long, and if at all, it would take Mayo to come back to 100% considering the severity of his last injury. Hopefully there won’t be any complications in that regard but we’ll have to wait and see how it all unfolds this off-season.

      • steve earle says:

        My two cents is that acm is right. It all depends on who is retained or who isn’t. So it makes little sense to me not to seek to resign Ayers. He has proven his value and I’d expect with a full off season and camp his value and production could only increase. As for ILB the return of Mayo plus Hightower it seems we should have the position covered unless it’s already decided one of them will be injured again. So unless some can’t miss future hall of fame LB slides down to us forget about ILB’s before the 6th round imo.

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