With the 99th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals have selected TCU inside linebacker Paul Dawson. Dawson has been ranked alongside Benardrick McKinney, Eric Kendricks and Denzel Perryman as one of the top-rated players at his position.
Dawson did not come out of high school with much fanfare, spending his first collegiate years at Trinity Valley Community College before transferring to TCU in 2012. When Dawson began to see regular time on defense in 2013, he amassed a team-leading 91 tackles, including 10 for loss. Dawson became a force in 2014 with 136 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and four interceptions. The monster year earned Dawson first-team Big 12 honors and the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award.
However, Dawson saw his stock take a major hit when he ran a 4.93 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine in February. Dawson claimed it was because of a bad hamstring, and then ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at his TCU pro day. The time is still poor for a linebacker who weighs 235 pounds, but it helped stabilize his stock somewhat.
Over at NFL.com, an AFC West regional scout talked about the other perceived knock on Dawson.
"He's an early round player without any question, but you don't have to dig around very deep or very long to realize that his personal character is going to be a major issue for some teams. My grade will be two rounds later than just the talent grade. It has to be factored in."