Packers Draft: Top 5 Inside Linebacker Targets
By Dan Dahlke
5. Paul Dawson, TCU
TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Paul Dawson (47) tackles Baylor Bears running back Shock Linwood (32). Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Based on the film alone, Dawson could arguably be the top inside linebacker in this class and a first-round pick this spring.
However, there are two things really working against Dawson. First, his 40 time (4.93) was atrocious and way too slow for a linebacker asked to drop in coverage in the NFL.
Second, reports about character and work ethic concerns with Dawson have surfaced throughout the draft process, which have to discourage some teams interested in the former TCU linebacker.
Dawson could negate a bad 40 time and reassure teams about his character and work ethic at his upcoming pro day.
Having said all of this, Dawson’s game is nothing short of impressive. He plays with excellent instincts, swarms to the ball, and always seems a step ahead of the offense.
He definitely plays faster than his 40 time, which may encourage teams to ignore his combine performance.
On the field, Dawson’s motor never stops and he makes impact plays in each facet of the game, whether it be against the run, dropping in coverage, or rushing the passer.
He can do it all at the position, but his size (6-0, 235) may also be a concern for 3-4 teams. Many believe his ideal fit in the NFL is at weakside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, where he can chase and make plays in space.
Even if Dawson isn’t an ideal fit in the Packers defense, if Green Bay drafted him they’d still be getting a player that could instantly improve their run defense and make plays in space.
Dawson may drop on draft day because of his 40 time and character concerns, which would mean he could be a steal for a team like the Packers at the end of the second or third round.
Other Considerations: Ben Heeney, Hayes Pullard, Ramik Wilson