Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Paul Dawson (47) during the game against the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals may have found themselves a real steal in the third round of this year’s NFL draft. With their second of two third round selections, and the 99th overall selection, the Bengals invested in TCU linebacker Paul Dawson to help bolster the middle of the defense.
Paul Dawson reminds many pundits and fans of fellow Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict, and he should. Dawson comes to the Bengals as that player who struggles to perform in a combine setting, which seems to have hurt his draft status. But for all his struggles in that setting, Dawson does plenty to make up for it when on the field.
When one takes a moment to watch some tape of Paul Dawson, you’ll instantly see an instinctive player who is a playmaker all over the field. When playing behind an effective defensive line, Dawson is allowed to roam the field and find the ball quickly off the snap. He’s excellent when challenging ball carriers from sideline to sideline and should only get better as he sharpens his skills to stack and shed blockers.
Some pundits expressed concern over his ability to defend against the pass, but I don’t feel this will be such an issue. With superb instincts, Paul Dawson makes up for any deficiency he may have athletically. He recognizes plays quickly and has enough speed to cover players coming across the middle.
I wrote an article earlier this draft season detailing my specific thoughts regarding what Paul Dawson would bring to Cincinnati, which includes a potential starter for the 2015 season. The long and short of the article is this; if healthy, Vontaze Burfict and Paul Dawson could give the Bengals an incredible duo in the middle of the field. Two playmakers who are quick to locate the ball and can get their teammates set up prior to the snap. At worst, the Bengals just found themselves insurance against Burfict’s undetermined status going forward and a replacement for the overpaid Rey Maualuga.
Finding Paul Dawson in the third round was a great opportunity for the Bengals. If given the opportunity to produce in his rookie season, Paul Dawson may prove to be one of the biggest steals of the draft.
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