New Orleans Saints Draft Prospects: Paul Dawson, ILB, TCU


We continue our series on prospects the New Orleans Saints might draft to fill the potential void next to David Hawthorne in the middle of their defense. In case you missed it, feel free to catch up on Stephone Anthony and Eric Kendricks.  While an off-the-ball linebacker would work best, don’t count on the Saints to give up their draft mantra “best player available”.  A player who could join the Black and Gold in this scenario is Paul Dawson, a 3-4 inside linebacker out of Texas Christian University, without a doubt one of the most controversial prospects in this year’s class. The former high-school wide receiver even met with the Saints during his Pro Day, according to The Times-Picayune.

NFL Scouting Combine measurements:

Height: 6 ft.

Weight: 235 lbs.

40 yard dash: 4.93 seconds

Vertical jump: 28″

Broad jump: 9’1″

20 yard shuttle: 4.49 seconds

Analysis: There is no need to sugarcoat it; Paul Dawson’s combine was HORRIBLE.  His dashes and jumps were dead last among linebackers, even defensive tackles jumped higher than he did.  The Big 12 defensive player of the year did tweak his hamstring during the workout, nonetheless his athletic figures put his already questionable work ethic under even more scrutiny.  At his Pro Day, most NFL scouts clocked him in the high 4.70’s and were thoroughly impressed with the positional drills he performed.  On another note, he ascribed his bad reputation to tardiness, a statement that will have GMs and coaches even more concerned about his character.  Most of the prospects worked out very hard in the weeks leading up to the combine to help their draft stock, Dawson has apparently done the opposite.

Dawson was the most productive linebacker in the nation in 2014 as evidenced by this short summary from

"2014: Consensus first-team All-American and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year … played in all 13 games this season, logging 11 starts … was placed on the Chuck Bednarik Award and Dick Butkus Award watch lists in the preseason … earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performances against Oklahoma and Texas … led the team and the Big 12 in total tackles with 136, 81 unassisted … the most tackles ever in the Gary Patterson era … leads the conference with three fumbles recovered … tied for the Big 12 lead in tackles for loss with 20.0 … finished with double-digit tackle totals in nine of 13 games this season … had 15 against Minnesota, including four for loss … recorded 18 total tackles at Baylor, a career-high, as well as two sacks … it was the third-most tallied during the Gary Patterson head coaching era … through the first five games, he had taken part in a turnover racking up two forced fumbles, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries during that stretch … recorded four interceptions throughout the season … had a 46-yard fourth quarter interception against Oklahoma to give the Horned Frog’s their final score in the win … it was the first pick-six for TCU since 2013 against SMU … forced two fumbles total against Minnesota and Baylor … added three fumbles recovered in the first three games of the season (Samford, Minnesota, SMU) … racked up six sacks throughout the season against SMU, Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas State and Ole Miss … posted eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in the 42-3 win over No. 9 Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl."

On the other hand, Paul Dawson’s tape is the most impressive I’ve seen thus far in terms of instincts, reading offenses and execution. Take a look for yourself:

Synopsis:  I am completely torn on this prospect.  Paul Dawson has got the instincts one can not teach and appears to be very football smart.  His athleticism leaves a lot to be desired and the personality has “undraftable” written all over it.  What counts in the league is production and that’s what will keep him in the top 50.  The Dallas native is a stud near the line of scrimmage — filling gaps, blitzing and looking good when dropping back in space.  His lack of speed would keep him off the field on third downs and limit his range.  The former Horned Frog possesses traits similar to David Hawthorne (also a TCU alum), thus making the acquisition of an athletic weak-side linebacker necessary.  Nonetheless, the Saints should give this kid a long look if he is still on the board when they are on the clock for the 31st or 44th pick and have not addressed the linebacker position at that point.

Next: David Hawthorne to replace Curtis Lofton

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