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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

NFL Draft Scouting Report: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

Duke Dawson - Florida


Position: CB

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 208 lbs.

Year: Senior

Hometown: Cross City, FL

Experience: 1-Year Starter



40yd dash: 4.46s

Broad jump: DNP

Vertical: DNP

3-cone: DNP

20yd. Shuttle: DNP

Bench Press: 15 reps


Career Notes:

As a freshman, Dawson started off as a safety in Florida. His instincts got him on the field in ten games with one start in 2014. In the season opener against Eastern Michigan, the true freshman took his first career pick to the house for a touchdown.

Dawson played in all fourteen games in 2015, but saw a let-down in production, totaling only ten tackles on the season. As a sophomore, he moved away from safety and learned behind three eventual first round picks in Vernon Hargreaves III, Quincy Wilson, and Teez Tabor.

With VH3 off to the NFL, Dawson moved up the depth chart as the primary nickel corner for the Gators in 2016. He tallied another pick six and led Florida in pass breakups with seven. However, the best was yet to come from Dawson.

The senior broke out in 2017 with a team-high nine pass breakups and four interceptions. The wily veteran notched his customary annual pick six as well. He spent time on the perimeter, in the nickel position, and even took some snaps at safety. Dawson opted out of Florida’s final game against Missouri.


Injury Report:

Dawson was dinged up with an elbow injury in the season opener against Michigan in 2016. He was back in action against Tennessee the following week. He then missed the SEC championship game against Alabama after hurting his ankle against Florida State later in the season.

In 2017, Dawson missed part of a fourth quarter against Tennessee after a suspected concussion—he was cleared to play the following week against Kentucky. He missed a game against UAB for an unspecified injury as well.


Career Stats:



Man Coverage 4.25/5.0: Dawson was exceptionally physical in man coverage. He showed toughness and precision at the line of scrimmage to disrupt routes. His hands came up quickly in press coverage. Occasionally, he’d shoot his arms out without proper position allowing receivers a free release outside. He was consistently physical downfield, occasionally getting away with wrap-around-the-waist holding calls. However, his doggish coverage was not a mask for a lack of speed. He showed an ability to flip his hips and fly with the fastest receivers in the country. He could stand to improve on pushing receivers farther to the perimeter on Go routes and using the sidelines as an extra defender. He did consistently have trouble following receivers out of their breaks on routes driving towards the sidelines.

Zone Coverage 3.0/5.0: Sometimes Dawson would really wow on zone coverages, and sometimes he would make head-scratching missteps. When he was locked into a vertical route, he followed it all the way through with no regard for the area he was supposed to cover a couple times. He interrupted a lot fewer routes in zone than in man coverage. Zone did allow him to keep his eyes in the backfield and he was a terror when reading quarterbacks. One defensed pass against LSU began with Dawson between three receivers, and ended with an unflinching drive on the ball once he saw the quarterback flash towards the flat. Those reactive plays far outnumbered the mistakes, but the potential costliness of his errors were cause for concern.

Against the Run 3.75/5.0: Dawson looked a bit more timid during 2016, but turned it up a notch in 2017. He registered a few tackles for loss and began setting the edge on the perimeter. He was not the strongest or most skilled tackler, but his motor didn’t let up. A much improved defender in both run fits and tackling, he still has room for growth. He is a three down defender, however, capable of holding his own at the line of scrimmage.

Speed/Quickness 4.0/5.0: Dawson was hardly ever burnt downfield and showed a consistent ability to run with the fastest receivers who lined up across from him. His speed and quickness were most apparent in crossing routes when he would effortlessly navigate around his teammates and hang with his assignments. His quickness looked worrisome at times when he had to flip his hips outside towards the sidelines to match receivers’ breaks. In these situations, he sometimes showed recovery speed to make up for lapses in agility to bring down receivers after the catch.

Impact Play Ability 4.5/5.0: Often by his sheer skill and intelligence, Dawson always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. His last two pick-sixes were somewhat dumb luck—one pass thrown way behind the receiver he was covering and the other a tipped pass that landed in his lap—but touchdowns are far from guaranteed on the defensive side of the ball. Besides using his hands, he found himself behind the line of scrimmage with and without designed blitzes. He is more than a rotational talent.

Summary: Dawson has been dinged up over the last two years, but on the field one would never know were it not for the brace he sported in the back half of 2017. He was a skilled man-coverage corner and a gutsy zone player with the toughness to bring down runners. He played far more largely than his sub-six-foot frame would let on. His speed was never dominant but it did always keep him next to top-tier receivers. Though some of his interceptions were provided by chance, he was in position for a few more, but not given the chance because of errant passes. In 2016, he needed to improve in run support and he delivered that improvement in 2017. His growth over the past two years provides reasonable belief he can continue to grow into an NFL team’s number one corner.

Overall Grade 3.9/5.0


If drafted by the Packers:

2017 was another rough year for the Green Bay cornerbacks. Even when it was not ravaged by injuries, it was clear that the Packers secondary needed a lot of work. Dawson’s strength and instincts could provide immediate relief at the nickel spot. He might even challenge Kevin King for a perimeter spot. In a very deep cornerback class with few teams clamoring for DBs, Dawson will likely be available in the third round. Considering both his upside and the immediate impact he could have, he is a comfortable Day 2 pick. There were serious questions about his change of direction at times that were not eased by skipping the 3-cone drill at the combine. He was a stronger tackler as a senior than in previous years, and he is not far away from being strong enough to be a proficient wrap-up tackler in the open field. His injuries might raise some concerned eyebrows, but his toughness to play through injury and resilience to recover was consistently impressive. If Dawson is on the board in the third round he will be an enticing option. There’s no excuse for passing on a guy like him to entrust a high volume of snaps to undrafted free agents again.






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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

GBPDAN1's picture

I'm not going to sleep well until we sign a quality veteran CB or two (we need experience at the position) and we solidify the safety position ( is Burnett leaving?) Our current DB situation is frightening. The FA market is now thin on play makers.

We had one of the worst passing D's in the NFL last season and now we don't have Randall and Morgan Burnett is a question mark. We went form terrible to incredibly disastrous . I know this will change prior to the season opener, but, I'm currently troubled by this.

My latest posts regarding this DB issue has been getting some thumbs down, probably because I questioned releasing Randall prior to having a confirmed replacement. I agreed that Randall wasn't the answer (mostly because of his attitude) but, he wasn't costing much against the cap with that rookie deal. He showed in that second half of last year that he could cover at least a #2 receiver (although he was covering #1s). We needed a veteran CB or two prior to releasing Randall.

So, I guess I'm wrong regarding our DB situation, and in reality, things are rosie because we got rid of Randall ?

4thand1's picture

Nobody seems to be beating down the door for M. Burnett. It's all about CB's, WR's, and edge rushers.

EdsLaces's picture

I know right . They will put his tape on and be like....well he's decent I guess lol.

Colin_C's picture

Love this guy from the tape I've seen. I've got my fingers crossed that we grab him in round 3. He's also good friends with Nick Collins, so that's got to count for something!

will121's picture

they are so strong :))
- -

gerenrique's picture

There is a notable rise of focus ion Florida and its environs. thanks

Gerald |

tomaswilson's picture

Thanks for the insight. my son is trying to become a football player.

tomaswilson's picture

Thanks for the piece
Tomas |

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