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- Position: Every-down linebacker (LB)
- Class: Senior
- College: TCU
- Ht/Wt: 6'0", 230 pounds
Paul Dawson is, in my opinion, an unpolished gem at the linebacker spot. He flashes outstanding ability as a downhill tackler. Dawson has great vision and instincts that play into his initial burst, allowing him to lock down plays in the backfield. He is also an excellent blitzer, with a knack for finding a gap to rush through. While he's not an athletic freak (see his 4.9 40), he shows enough all-around athleticism to be an every-down linebacker.
Dawson really needs to work on his gap integrity and tackling angles. He gives up big runs because of reading the wrong gap or freelancing on the play. Dawson shows good coverage potential, but can improve still. He tracks the quarterback's eyes well, and catches the football with good form. He's not comfortable yet with backpedaling or defending a zone. He's also not the best at shedding blocks; Dawson has lower than average core power, and can't pull free from a lineman easily. Dawson tackles with good form for the most part
When I first evaluated Dawson, I was reminded a lot of Preston Brown and Kiko Alonso. Like Brown, Dawson is an excellent downhill run defender, with just enough coverage ability to threaten a quarterback, despite suboptimal range. Like Alonso, he's very instinctive, sometimes to the point of playing outside the structure of the play call, and he's also a dangerous blitzer. I think a player between Brown and Alonso's abilities should be considered a great find as a linebacker. I've read that Dawson is apparently not a great member of a locker room, and he doesn't take well to coaching, which would probably lower his grade in the eyes of scouts. Still, I can't argue with the results on the field. I have him graded as a second-rounder.