Every year, when the draft approaches, I ask Broncos fans on Twitter for certain players they’d like to see broken down in a scouting report. That includes positives, negatives and potential fit with the Broncos. Today, I examine TCU LB Paul Dawson.
Dawson has an extremely high motor and is a very aggressive player. On the rush, he attacks well off the edge and flashes good closing burst in pocket rushes. He displays good click and close, with an overall quick reaction time. He is decisive and possesses an excellent football IQ. He reads RBs and gaps well, and is able to play skinny between offensive linemen.
Dawson stands up to offensive linemen quite well. He stacks and sheds effectively, hiding in blocks waiting for the ballcarrier. Once the player is upon him in the box, he does a good job squaring and tackling through the player. He is quite a good athlete, with tremendous ankles. Dawson really shows excellent technique against the run, particularly his ability to keep his hips parallel to the line of scrimmage.
Dawson shows a worrying tendency to bite inside and lose pass flat contain. He lets players leak past him too easily. He also overextends against box blocks, seemingly too aggressive and eager to make a play. I noticed him several times have his hands outside the pads while fighting blocks, which leaves him unable to stack and shed, and get washed out of the play. He is also a bad open-field tackler.
Although Dawson played ILB for the Horned Frogs, he is undersized for the position in the big leagues. Checking in at 6’2” and 230 lbs, Dawson presents an intriguing case for NFL scouts. He possesses the skillset to play 4-3 WILL, 4-3 MIKE or 3-4 ILB in the NFL, but is built with the frame best suited to be a weakside ‘backer, where he can fly around the field. His biggest drawback would be character concerns, however. According to reports, Dawson was not well-liked at TCU. He has the talent to change a defense, but off-the-field could be an issue.
Fit with Broncos:
Dawson is another undersized LB, a prototype which the Broncos have shown such an affinity for as of late. Although we’re obviously lacking the official combine measurements so far, his college height and weight are identical to that of Wesley Woodyard. Dawson would play the Mo LB position in the Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense. He is definitely undersized, but absolutely possesses the skillset and ability to be a box LB in a 3-4 defense in the NFL.
The problem is, he’d be competing with Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall for snaps at the position. So, not only is he another WLB-mold player transitioning in this defense, but there is still the issue of the character concerns. These are unsubstantiated at this point, but definitely bear paying attention to. Dawson is a second-round talent, but the off-the-field issues could drop him into Day 3 at the draft if they are significant enough.
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