Derek Rivers terrorized FCS quarterbacks en route to 14 sacks in 2016. With pass rushing at a premium, the New England Patriots got great value in the third third and will hope he can scale that production up to the NFL in 2017 and beyond.
Dawkins was one of college’s toughest players, starting his last 40 games and exhibiting a real mean streak at left tackle. He’s a well-built blocker who engages defenders and pushes them around with superb upper-body strength. He was an excellent run blocker.
He began to transition to an interior role at the Senior Bowl, where he showed potential at guard. He pulls well and gets upfield to seal blocks at the second level with quickness. Dawkins keeps his pads low and explodes through his assignments; at Temple, his work upfront helped the Owls run for more than 176 yards per game.
That makes him a building block for a power running team. Here he is sealing an off-tackle run against Notre Dame last fall.
Why do some pundits think he’s a reach?
Dawkins’ run blocking is significantly ahead of his pass blocking. He struggles with quicker edge rushers, who beat him with pure speed around the corner or with lateral cuts to the inside. That weakness will be mitigated by a move to guard, but is still something he’ll need to work.
He can be stiff with his footwork, which he compensates for with upper-body strength. He won’t have the same advantage in the NFL as he had in the AAC.
So are there any statistical standouts for 2017, or are NFL execs going to overthink their way into over-drafting QBs again?
We’ll start with the basics. Here are some rate and average stats for what I’ll say are the top 22 quarterbacks in this year’s class. This includes Dan Kadar’s most recent top 15 (signified by the “SBN Rank” below), plus another seven.