Duke Dawson, CB/S
School: Florida | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22?
Height / Weight: 5-10 / 208 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th Round
NFL Comparison: Josh Robinson
Duke Dawson has played behind a lot of talented defensive backs at Florida. He predecessors include Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson, and Teez Tabor to name a few. Dawson played the safety position last year and put up a decent performance. With the departure of both Tabor and Wilson last year, the coaches at Florida moved Dawson to corner this year. Dawson had a solid year with the position switch. He has versatility having played both safety and corner in his career. Before the season started Dawson said his biggest weakness was letting his eyes get stuck on one spot on the field. It appears he has improved that issue.
Dawson has a good feel for the space around him and his biggest strength is probably zone coverage. He had a knack for being at the right place at the right time several times this season and has come up with several impressive interceptions and passes defended. He also has good short area quickness when closing to his target. He also looks pretty smooth on film when transitioning from his backpedal and getting downfield. Dawson certainly does not have the ideal length and size of a boundary corner but he is well-built and can be physical in coverage to his credit and detriment. He’ll need coaching up to cut down on being grabby but he certainly has some promising skills for a team looking for a developmental corner running a zone scheme.
- Good zone defender who keeps plays in front of him. Might be a better fit at safety because of this. Able to read the receiver and the QB and generally has good instincts and awareness.
- Good speed for the position. Showed good straight-line speed on film.
- Willing to play the run and shows good physicality in run support. Surprisingly decent at getting off blockers to stop an opponent.
- Dangerous as a returner on defense with three pick 6’s in his career.
- Fundamentals and overall technique need refinement. Needs to time attack, jump, and turn better when playing man coverage. Needs to use hands more strategically and improve mirror abilities.
- Doesn't have ideal size and length for the position.
- Needs to be more aggressive in run support. Was too comfortable letting the play come to or by him before he acted.
Let’s see his work:
Florida CB Duke Dawson (#7) with the pick six here; looks like an early-round draft prospect. More Dawson clips: https://t.co/G6lhQZDzju#NFLDraft @7upya__ @UFSports @FloridaGators pic.twitter.com/eFgmma7rOQ— Kevin Brown (@nfldraftnik) December 31, 2017
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
The Redskins seem to employ a variety of coverages that are a mix of man and zone. Last season the Skins played a variety of cover 2 and cover 3 coverages including a lot of trap coverage. Duke Dawson would fit in well with a team that runs heavy zone this would include the Redskins especially when the team plays trap coverage. When you break it down the defensive scheme asks for a lot out of the corners. In addition to their skills needed to be well rounded for zone and man, the Redskins need cornerbacks who are athletic. The boundary corners need to be able to keep the play in front of them and bail (and hope the safety help is there) if the ball goes past their zone. Additionally, the corners need to be very physical - able to come up and play the run as well as short passes.
I think this actually plays to a lot of Dawson’s strengths particularly his short area quickness and ability to break on the ball. Dawson likely would fit best as a nickel defender in the Redskin defense where he could play more laterally instead of vertically. While that position is already well manned by Kendall Fuller the need isn’t immediate but the Redskins should have a player on the roster that can come in and play nickel adequately if Fuller were to go down. Norman, Breeland, Dunbar, Moreau are all boundary corners. I have a feeling the Redskins will invest in the position why not reunite Torian Gray with one of his former players to guide his development?