by Tyler Aston
Paul Dawson: ILB, TCU, 6’2, 230lbs
OVERVIEW: You don’t play linebacker at a top Big 12 school if you can’t play sideline to sideline. Paul Dawson, a wide receiver coming out of high school, certainly fits that profile. He was a two year starter for the Horned Frogs and was the team’s leading tackler both years. The senior from Dallas has 128 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and one touchdown on the season. That’s an impressive stat line. Gary Patterson has done an excellent job at molding a great athlete, into a very good football player.
Athleticism is the first attribute that jumps out when studying Dawson. He has great range. Some linebackers are tackle to tackle players, others hash mark to hash mark, even fewer are sideline to sideline. Dawson falls into the latter however his range is borderline Gatorade cooler to Gatorade cooler. He should run a high 4.5/low 4.6 based on tape. He has the ability to stick with running backs and tight ends in coverage, and due to his speed, the zone he occupies is pretty large. He does a good job reading the QB’s eyes when in coverage and it lets him jump routes effectively.
His instincts are decent. He’s by no means is going to be mistaken for Luke Keuchly, but they are pretty solid nonetheless. It’s an area you can see is still improving. In the short term his burst once he makes his read compensates for any hesitation in what he sees. He takes bad angles from time to time, but that feels more like a player who hasn’t completely normalized to the position more than anything else. He’s most comfortable playing inside-out, and when allowed to play in this manner is much more instinctive and takes better angles.
His best asset against the run is that explosive burst. He diagnoses the play and in an instant is in the hole to meet the ball carrier. He needs work at taking on blocks, but this looks more like a matter of functional strength, as opposed to willingness. His best game against the run was actually against Minnesota, who plays smash mouth offense. He’s got no problem sticking his nose in there and mixing it up, he just needs to continue to fill out his frame.
Grade: 2nd Round
If you only watch one game: Minnesota (2014)