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Texas Tech fans breakdown Colts DT Keyunta Dawson

Keyunta Dawson
With rookie camp winding down today, I have to say that I am more excited about this group of rookies than any other group that's come in here, including last year's crop that featured Joseph Addai, Antoine Bethea, and Charlie Johnson. Bethea and Addai started last year, and anytime you have two rookies starting for you and both those rookies help you win a championship that's one helluva draft class.

I think this draft class can be even better.

One of the guys I'm very intrgued by is 7th round pick Keyunta Dawson. Keyunta played DE at Texas Tech, and is listed at 6'3'', 270 pounds. For a team like the Giants or the Jaguars, that is an ideal DE. For the Colts, 270 pounds is more in line with the DTs than the DEs. I think the Colts drafted Keyunta in order to develop him as a DT, like they did Raheem Brock. Brock (6'4'', 275 pounds) was a 7th round pick as well. The Eagles drafted him but cut him before training camp in 2002. The Colts signed him and developed him over time. He started out as a DE, but was more productive and explosive as a DT. When Montae Reagor (another Texas Tech alumn) went down last year, Brock assumed the role of leader on the DL, making all the stunt calls Reagor used to do. I have a feeling the Colts will try and mold Keyunta into the same kind of player Brock is.

Now unfortunately, I have no idea how good Keyunta Dawson is. Never saw him in college. Never knew his name until last Sunday. Fortunately, I knew someone who did. Seth, SB Nation's blogger for Texas Tech over at Double T Nation, sent me a write-up of Keyunta recently. Like all our college bloggers, Seth knows what he's doing and knows an awful lot about Tech football and Keyunta Dawson.

Seth from Double T Nation says:

Keyunta Dawson was one of my favorite players to watch as he took over Texas Tech's rush end position.  At the beginning of the 2006 season, the coaches toyed with the idea of running Dawson at linebacker, but his value at the college level was at defensive end.  That however, is the question with Dawson, where exactly should he play in the NFL, at linebacker where he obviously has the size, but may lack the speed and quickness getting into coverage, at defensive end where he is comfortable playing and spent a majority of his college career, or at defensive tackle where with a few more pounds would have a serious quickness and speed advantage over most offensive linemen.

Character:  I would be shocked if there were ever any character issues with Keyunta as he's always been a good teammate and great person.  I recalled that his father is a preacher and ran across this articlewhere Dawson talked about his beliefs and his work ethic:

I give all the glory to God for all of my talents and everything. I feel like it was instilled in my from an early age to work hard from being in a pastoral household and my brothers in something. So that's something that's been instilled in me to be self-motivated and be disciplined. Just a hard workout can make up for a lot of things, I always try to push myself and push people around me, so I think that's the one thing that I excelled at on the field and in practice. Hard work and studying in the film room and learning more about my opponent and things like that really helped me have the type of career that I did in college.

Dawson is a humble person who will work extremely hard and will do whatever the coaches ask of him.

Strengths:  I've always loved Dawson's motor, he is a tireless worker, and understands that you can't take off any plays.  Despite double teams, Dawson was still a very moderately effective pass rusher.  In 2005 Dawson only had 2.5 sacks, but had 62 tackles.  In 2006 Dawson was much more effective where he had 63 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 6.0 sacks and 11.0 quarterback hurries.  Dawson's 40 time (4.76) is comparable with other defensive ends in this draft:  Gaines Adams ( 4.64), Jamaal Anderson (4.75), Adam Carriker (4.9), Jarvis Moss (4.7), and Anthony Spencer (4.73).  His general quickness in comparison to his size will be his greatest attributes, and would think that the Indy coaching staff would simply allow Dawson to be a rush end in the same mold as Freeney.  Dawson is a better than average athlete which would allow him to make plays, as a defensive end, but maybe not athletic enough to play linebacker.

Negatives:  Personally, I had a hard time figuring out why Dawson was picked so low, but I think the one thing that teams considered was production.  Those top players mentioned above were just that much more effective while on the field, making more plays and being a more productive player in general.  In order to be a player that teams have to account for, Dawson has to start making more plays.

The other thing to consider is that Dawson weighed only 248 at the beginning of the 2006 season.  He's had to put on a lot of weight in preparation of the draft and wonder if he could add more weight while still being effective.  

It will be interesting to see if Dawson can play at defensive tackle.  He's not accustomed to staying low as a defensive tackle should and wonder if changing positions would put him in a situation where he's not as comfortable.  Perhaps the Colts would be better off allowing Dawson to play the end and allow him to learn the defensive tackle position as the year progresses.  Dawson would be unique in that he has great speed for a defensive tackle, lacks the technique, but given some time could probably adjust.