ILB Paul Dawson – Scouting Report

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)

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Shrine Game Stuff

The Shrine Game used to feature elite talent, but no longer. It now is mostly guys in the 4th-7th rounds, with plenty of UDFAs. Teams can still find talented players there. Just not early picks or major college stars.

The game is Saturday and practices are going on all week.

Tony Pauline shared thoughts on some players. One of his “Risers”:

Darrian Miller/OL/Kentucky – Miller has stood out the past two days, proving he can handle the duties at left tackle. Today he shut out his bigger teammate from Kentucky, Za’Darius Smith, during full scrimmage, looking stellar in pass protection. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Miller is athletic, nimble and explosive at the point. He’s built more like a guard, which may be his ultimate position in the NFL, but he continues to display next-level qualities at the all-important left tackle spot.

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Lance Zierlein is passing along some nuggets he’s hearing.

The scoop: More than one NFL observer here watching the practices commented on how Kansas inside linebacker Ben Heeney is generating draft buzz, more than I had anticipated.

The skinny: Heeney checked in at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, which is undersized by NFL standards. But conversations with multiple personnel men yielded the same result: Heeney can play in the league. NFL teams love production, and when it comes to production as a tackler, Heeney was near the top with 127 total tackles, 17 of them for loss. Heeney plays the game downhill and he continued to do that in practice on Tuesday by consistently beating offensive linemen to the spot and disrupting the running game.

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Finally, here is a bit of practice footage from the Shrine Game.

Always love to see some of the practices.

That’s from Emory Hunt.


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LB/DE Dante Fowler Scouting Report

by Tyler Aston

Dante Fowler Jr: EDGE, Florida, 6-3, 260lbs

Overview: The 5-star recruit from Lakewood certainly looks the part, as one of Florida’s legion of highly touted, physically freakish players. Fowler dropped 15 pounds during last offseason to accommodate a role change that saw him play out of a two-point stance more during his junior campaign. Florida used him creatively. He played the left and right side, in both a three-point stance and standing up. He was used as a standup blitzer inside the tackle box, and even played NT in passing downs against FSU.

In the run game, Fowler is at his best when allowed to attack the play. He maintains gap integrity well when allowed to penetrate and attack, but struggles when asked to engage and read a play. Alabama’s LT nickname must be UBER, because he took Fowler for some rides. He has longer arms that help him to maintain separation, but at this stage he simply does not have the power in his base to hold off larger offensive linemen, although he does a decent job against more similarly sized TE’s. Does a good job at disengaging blocks. Struggles with the zone read.

He’s a good pass rusher. He has a good first step, although his snap recognition leaves room for improvement. He shows the ability to bend the edge and “run the hoop”, however can be at times inconsistent in this regard. His primary pass rush moves are a rip, and a hand clearance/swat. The hand clearance in particular is a technically difficult move to pull off, as it requires great timing, and Fowler does with regularity. If he can learn to attack the opening this move creates more quickly, it could become an elite move. His counter move is currently a swim move. It works in college, but unless he converts it from a big windmill motion over the top, to more of a “punch-over” will get him buried in the league. He also has a spin move that he uses more as a disengagement move to reset the point of attack with the blocker, but it shows promise as a pass rush tool to develop. Doesn’t convert speed to power well, needs work there to develop a bull rush.

I didn’t get to see Fowler drop a ton. It looks a bit mechanical. I feel comfortable with him covering fullbacks and the flat at this point.

Grade: Late 1st-Early 2nd

If you only watch one game: FSU (2014)

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DE/LB Bud Dupree

Editor’s Note – Tyler Aston is a new contributor to Scouts Notebook, but he’s not new to following the NFL draft or evaluating players. His scouting reports will be a regular feature here. Enjoy.

Alvin (Bud) Dupree: EDGE, Kentucky, 6’4, 264lbs


And I heard as it were the noise of thunder.
One of the four beasts saying “come and see”,
and I saw, and behold a man in blue, he doth wear number 2.

Length, loose hips, active hands, explosive power. These are all key traits in pass rushers. Bud Dupree checks each box. Dupree was the constant focal point of opposing offenses. They ran away from him, slid protection his way, and kept TE’s and RB’s in an effort to slow him down. Yet every game, there he was making an impact. Add in the fact he plays with a dogged relentlessness and has a high football IQ, and let’s just say the girlfriend didn’t appreciate the idea of remaking “You, Me, and Dupree”.

Dupree is a high quality run defender. He has active, violent hands that he uses to jolt the blocker back at impact, and then disengage him. He does a good job at setting the edge while not getting upfield, and effectively giving a huge lane to his inside. Teams don’t run at him very often. He still finds ways to bring down running backs. There is an old offensive line coach adage about leaving a backside defender unblocked on a perimeter play the other way: “If he can chase down our running back, well shit, we need a new running back”. Sorry coaches, your running back works just fine, Dupree is just that explosive.

Dupree rushes out of both a three-point and standup position, from the left and right side. His first step is electric. Most players lose some explosiveness when playing out of a two-point stance, Dupree gets low in his standup stance and absolutely uncoils. He uses this in combination with a quick move to knock down the offensive players’ hand and a quick rip. It’s enough to give even the best pass protectors a headache. Overall his pass rush moves are fairly limited. He mainly just has the quick rip. His ability to hand fight and his speed do help him work inside to counter. He has a rip back to the inside that is workable, but unspectacular. He did however throw a couple of club-rip counters, which had me giddily squealing

Overall his burst and hand fighting should get him by while his position coaches help him develop more complex pass rushing moves.

Dupree drops very well for a man of his size. He is better in coverage than most two down ILB’s. His fluid hips allow him to pedal quickly while keeping his eyes in the backfield. He’s covered backs and slot receivers on short drag routes and TE’s on wheel routes.

Grade: 1st (top 10)

If you only watch one game: Mizzou (2014)

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The Troubled Scout

The Skins recently hired Scot McCloughan to be their GM. He is a great talent evaluator, but comes with a lot of baggage.

Read this story by Seth Wickersham to find out the good, the bad and the ugly of McCloughan’s situation. Great piece.


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Underclassmen Keep Coming

Penn State TE Jesse James is headed to the NFL. This is a weak TE class so I don’t blame him a bit. Tons of potential. Flashed at PSU, but never became the player he could have. Good NFL prospect.

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Mizzou DE/LB Shane Ray is headed to the NFL. Should be a 1st round pick.

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I have not seen this kid play, but I’m certainly intrigued.

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More Noles Headed to the NFL

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Jameis Goes Pro

Florida State QB Jameis Winston made it official…he’s in the draft. There was some talk that he might come back to FSU, but I don’t think that was ever a real possibility. Winston was a great player for the Noles, but I don’t think Jimbo Fisher wanted any part of that circus again.

There is no question that Winston is a very talented QB prospect. The big question with him is character. I’ve never met him and don’t have any inside scoops on what kind of a person he is. As an outsider, I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole.

The rape allegation bothers the heck out of me (as it should any rational human being), and Winston’s casual attitude about the situation is very unsettling. I wasn’t there and I don’t know what happened, but what I do know is that if anyone ever accused me of rape, I’d be walking on egg shells for a long time. Winston acts like nothing happened at all.

He’s had some knucklehead incidents that on their own aren’t that bad, but when combined with the rape allegation show a pattern of troubling behavior. That phrase doesn’t seem harsh enough, but I’m at a loss for the right words.

Some people will say to focus on the player and forget character. I just don’t know how you do that with Winston. It will be very interesting to see when he goes and who drafts him.


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Some Combine Changes

As the NFL’s Scouting Combine becomes more and more of a media event, changes will occur. The schedule has been shaken up this year to help TV viewers. In the past, on-field workouts began on Saturday with the OL. That group will now go on Friday. This allows weekend viewers to see skill players on Saturday and then DL/LBs on Sunday.

Dane Brugler has the full details.

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Draft Notebook

* Michigan State QB Connor Cook is going back to college. Good. Anyone who watched him play against Baylor in the bowl game could see that he’s got talent, but also some big time issues. Cook needs a clean pocket or he can really struggle. His decision-making becomes erratic and his accuracy can be a problem even on simple throws.

I don’t know if those issues will go away in a year, but Cook can work on them. He’s not ready for the NFL right now.

* Alabama QB Blake Sims did not play well at all in the Sugar Bowl. He wasn’t accurate. He didn’t make quick decisions or good ones. His arm wasn’t overly impressive. At his very best, Sims looks like a poor man’s Russell Wilson. He wasn’t anywhere close to that in the bowl game.

* I was impressed by Oregon LB Tony Washington. They list him at 6-3, 250. He showed the ability to cover or attack up the field. Washington had 4 total tackles, a sack, a FF and he returned a fumble 58 yards for a TD. He looks like a good athlete. Won’t be an early pick, but has NFL potential. Could play SAM in the 3-4 or the 4-3.

* Ohio State WR Devin Smith is a really good downfield receiver. Lots of guys have the ability to go deep, but Smith locates the ball well, adjusts to it and then has good hands. This is a guy you want to add to your team if you throw the ball deep. He had receptions of 40 and 47 yards against Alabama.

* I’m glad Melvin Gordon didn’t break Barry Sanders records. Gordon has had a great year for Wisconsin and he’s a fun player to watch, but it drives me crazy that kids today get so many more games. Sanders had 11 games count in his 2, 628 yard season. Gordon played 14 games this year. Sanders didn’t even get to count his bowl stats.

I do think Gordon will be a good NFL back. He’s got good size and can run in traffic. He was special in college because of his ability to get to space and turn gains into long TDs. Some of that will carry over to the NFL, but obviously some of it won’t. Gordon was 34-251-3 in his final game for the Badgers.

* Baylor QB Bryce Petty is a hard player to get a read on. At his best, he looks like an NFL starter. Petty has good deep accuracy. He doesn’t have a cannon, but shows functional arm strength, maybe better. He generally is a good decision-maker and seems comfortable running BU’s crazy no-huddle attack.

There are some times when Petty struggles and you start to think he might be just another system QB that piled up huge numbers in college and won’t pan out in the pros.

I like Petty and think he can be a good starter in the right system.

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