The New York Giants have work to do on their defense. They got started by replacing defensive coordinator Perry Fewell with former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The move was made with the expectation that his aggressive schemes will breathe new energy into the defense, and give it new teeth.
But that was just the start the Giants also need to continue building the young core of talent on the roster. As refreshing as rookie linebacker Devon Kennard's performance in 2014 was, that unit seems perennially in need of talent. While the Giants might not pick a linebacker with the ninth overall pick, there are some nice options that should present good value on the second day of the draft. One of those is the senior out of TCU, Paul Dawson.
- Outstanding mental game. High football IQ, awareness, and instincts
- Disciplined, very well coached, but aggressive
- Agile, fluid athlete
- Impressive closing burst
- Sure tackler
- Highly productive
- True three-down linebacker. Plays the run defense, pass coverage, and rushes the passer well
- Undersized, could struggle to take on blockers at the next level
- Relies on his agility to deal with blockers rather than stack and shed.
- Size/frame could be limit him schematically, likely a 4-3 weakside linebacker, possibly play inside in nickel situations.
Does He Fit With The Giants?
In a word: Yes.
In more words: Dawson is an aggressive, three-down linebacker who can cover tight ends or running backs over the middle, come down and make sure tackles in the run game, and is a very effective blitzer. How could he NOT fit with the Giants? More than that, his game would make a very nice compliment to Kennard's as the Giants build a defense for the future.
His frame does mean that for him to be effective, he needs to be protected by a stout defensive line. But, if the Giants re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul and add a defensive tackle or two to go with John Hankins and Jay Bromley, he will be very well protected.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 74
Mocking The Draft - 100
CBS Sports - 47
Draft Countdown - 49
Draft Tek - *not ranked
I suspect that the measurable part of the draft process won't be kind to Dawson, currently listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. He has okay height, but he doesn't have the kind of frame that gets scouts really excited. Likewise, while he should do well in the field and agility drills, and shows a nice closing burst, he looks like he has just average speed.
All that being said, he has that one trait that you can only see on film, and is shared by all the great linebackers: His first step is almost always toward the ball, or where the ball is going to be. Having little or no wasted movement, being able to be where the play is going before it gets there, are what have made guys like Luke Kuechly, Patrick Willis, and Ray Lewis great. I'm not saying Dawson is on that level as a player, but he has some of the same traits.
The mental footwork to know where to go before his eyes tell him combined with the athletic ability to make it happen are things the Giants have lacked at linebacker for a long time.