NFL Draft 2015: TCU LB Paul Dawson Has Visit Lined Up With Vikings

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The Vikings may be zeroing in on a draft target who can upgrade their linebacker corps both in terms of talent and ferocious attitude.

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In a draft diary written for USA Today, TCU LB Paul Dawson revealed the list of five teams he is currently set to visit. And that list includes the Vikings.

The more enthusiastic scouts view Dawson as a Will linebacker in the mold of Lavonte David.

Chad Greenway was underwhelming in 2014 at the Will backer position for the Vikings but it’s been reported that the team is negotiating to bring him back at a smaller salary in 2015. This may make many fans groan, but Mike Zimmer apparently appreciates Greenway’s veteran locker room presence.

The Vikings would appear to have a bigger hole at MLB than at WLB, but does Dawson really project as a Mike?

Though many see Dawson as a better fit on the outside in a 4-3, there are some who see him potentially working in the middle. Having let Jasper Brinkley walk in free agency, the Vikings currently have no one on their roster who really projects as a starting MLB in 2015.

The 6-0, 235-lb Dawson may look undersized but many believe he has the talent to overcome the height disadvantage.

NFL.com raves about Dawson’s anticipation and ability to avoid blockers:

"Flexible, agile athlete with good lower-body build. Outstanding instincts. Sees what is happening on the field and senses what is about to happen. Always plays downhill, attacking line of scrimmage. Second-level ghost who is a nightmare for offensive linemen to engage. Instantly unlocks hips and bursts to chase outside. Smooth lateral movement with ability to change direction and mirror running back into the hole. Gets skinny and slips blocks. When blocked, doesn’t stay wired to blocks. Chases sideline to sideline. Excels in pass coverage, allowing just 35.7 percent of passes against him to be completed. Tough play demeanor. Plays hard and practices hard."

CBSSports.com sees similarities between Dawson and a current Tampa Bay Buccaneers star:

"COMPARES TO: Lavonte David, Buccaneers — Like the 6-1, 233 pound David, Dawson has the agility and instincts to star if protected up front by a stout defensive line and allowed to roam free. Today’s pass-happy offenses make size less of a detriment at linebacker than it once but schematic limitations could push Dawson into the second round, just as it David."

Rotoworld concurs with the Lavonte David comparison:

"A missile from the weakside or in nickel situations. He stands 6’0/230 lbs, so is Dawson really undersized? He plays big thanks to power and aggression. He can impact any run and chase situation and looks comfortable accomplishing his assignment in coverage."

Scouts though have expressed concerns about Dawson’s freelancing style of play and occasional lapses of discipline both on the field and off (via jsonline):

"Very instinctive football player,” one scout said. “Little bit of a freelancer. Kind of does his own thing, which coaches don’t love. But he’s got a lot of ability.” Regarded as a character risk by some teams. “He’s late for meetings, all that kind of stuff,” another scout said. “He’s just never done the right things.”"

Folks will be keeping a close eye on Dawson’s pro day to see if he improves on the bad numbers he posted at the combine. FWIW, Dawson says in his draft diary that a bad hamstring hampered him at the combine but he expects to be full-speed when pro day rolls around on March 27.

Next: Mike Priefer Seeking Cullen Loeffler's Replacement

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