First, the bright side: Dawson led the Horned Frogs in tackles in each of his final two seasons, including big-time senior production of 136 tackles, six sacks, 20 tackles for losses, four interceptions and two forced fumbles. He earned some first-team All-American accolades and was selected the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Now, the down side: After measuring in at 6-foot and 235 pounds, Dawson ran a plodding 4.93 in the 40-yard dash with just a 28-inch vertical at the Scouting Combine. On Friday, Dawson ran in 4.77 with a 30-inch vertical. Yes, that’s an improvement, but Dawson had to get down to 230 pounds to do it.
Can Dawson really be the cornerstone of the Packers’ new inside linebacker group when he’s neither big nor fast?
“His numbers at the Combine didn’t compute with what we saw on tape,” Rams assistant head coach Dave McGinnis told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He was in good condition today; he was in shape. It was evident that he’s been working since the Combine. The Combine is the combine, and what’s past is past, but it’s evident he’s been working for this day here.”
Dawson is considered a second- or third-round pick by the NFL’s head scout, Dave-Te’ Thomas.
“One thing Paul has, and I think you have to have at that level, is pure talent and instincts,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “He’s a great tackler. He reacts quickly. ... He’s just one of those guys who does things you can’t coach. We can get them in the right position, but they don’t necessarily make plays. It’s hard to make as many tackles as what he did a year ago and not be one of those guys. You put him in a system like that, and I think you have the opportunity for him to be successful.”
TCU’s next-best prospects are cornerback Kevin White and safety Chris Hackett. At 5-foot-9, White won’t be a consideration. Hackett, on the other hand, started all three seasons and finished fourth in the nation with seven interceptions in 2014. He had a terrible Combine with a 4.81 but cut almost a quarter-second off of that with a 4.58, according to a source.
Despite a limited resume, Hunter has worked himself into a first-round option. Considering the state of the Packers’ depth chart in 2016 — at this time next year, Mike Neal and Nick Perry will be free agents and Julius Peppers will be 36 — Green Bay almost certainly will select an outside linebacker in one of the first three or four rounds.
Hunter (6-5, 252) left LSU following a junior season of just 1.5 sacks but a team-high 13 tackles for losses. His 63 tackles ranked third on the team. However, with his 4.57 in the 40 and 34-inch arms to keep blockers at bay, he’s overflowing with potential. He didn’t run the 40 on Friday but went through other testing, including a 36.5-inch vertical.
Alexander (6-1, 227) had 90 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for losses — we featured him in three stories earlier this week, including his scouting report. His 4.55 in the 40 was good for second among linebackers at the Combine. Alexander, a third-round possibility, mostly stuck with his work from the Combine.
“I’m fast, aggressive, mean and I just love playing the game,” Alexander said. “It is fun. I love to have fun … Whoever picks me up is going to love me.”
Cornerback Jalen Collins, who is a pure potential pick, as well, with merely 10 starts in three seasons, recently had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot. At 6-foot-2, with 32-inch arms and a 4.48 in the 40, he’s the best combination of size, length and speed in this year’s cornerback class. However, he didn’t exactly light the world on fire at LSU and the surgery is going to sideline him until the June minicamp, so he’s going to be way behind heading into training camp. The injury probably will knock him out of the first.
Alani Fua likely will be the only BYU player to hear his name called — and late, at that. Fua (6-5, 239) ran in 4.73 at the Scouting Combine. He cut it to 4.56 while pumping out a couple more reps on the bench. The outside linebacker had four sacks, 7.5 tackles for losses and two interceptions while playing in 10 of 13 games.
"I was hearing 4.5 [from scouts], which is what I was expecting to run at the combine," Fua told the Salt Lake Tribune. "I don't know what happened over there, but I definitely made up for it today."
Fua’s best spot is probably as a 4-3 outside linebacker. With maturation and added strength, he should fit at 3-4 outside linebacker.
Mahina (6-6, 253) caught 20 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns to earn invites to the NFLPA Bowl and Senior Bowl. Lasike (5-11, 235) rushed for 364 yards (4.6 average) and seven touchdowns while catching 25 passes for 267 yards and two more scores. The native of New Zealand was a rugby All-American for BYU.
Daniel, who has good size at 6-foot-1, will earn a second look from scouts by running the 40 in 4.45 with a 35.5-inch vertical and 24 reps on the bench, according to the school Web site. He had one interception and 15 passes defensed in 10 starts.
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