By Matthew Postins
Every few days leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft RattleandHumSports.com will profile a player that the Dallas Cowboys could select in the draft.
Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
Measurables: 6-foot, 212 pounds
Rankings: CBSSports.com ranks Dixon as the No. 146 overall prospect and the No. 4 draft prospect at strong safety.
Draft grade: CBSSports.com gives Dixon a fourth- or fifth-round grade.
In College (from Baylor bio): All-American safety and three-year starter, made 288 career tackles, 12 breakups and four interceptions… Played in 2014 Senior Bowl… 2014 NFL Scouting Combine invitee… Member of senior class that played in four straight bowl games for first time in school history and earned program’s first Big 12 Championship and BCS Bowl berth in 2013… Started 38 (26 at hybrid LB/DB, 12 at safety) of 50 career games played… Named first-team All-America as senior in 2013, two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2012 and 2011… Local Waco native and former prep All-American, highest rated recruit to Baylor in several years (No. 15 national recruit by ESPNU 150)… Timed at 4.39 in 40-yard dash… Passionate, vocal, leader.
So far in the scouting process: Dixon met with the Cowboys during the combine. He ran a 4.64 40-yard dash time at the combine, a serviceable time for his position. One of the big questions about him during the scouting process has been his passion, which perhaps became too much during the TCU game in which, after a hit on Trevone Boykin, he did a Johnny Manziel celebration. Dixon ended up being called for targeting on the play and was ejected. TCU coach Gary Patterson had some choice words after the game too. Dixon didn’t have a reputation as a dirty player going into that game, but he has a reputation for hitting hard. Dixon said the Cowboys didn’t ask him about the penalty.
What scouts say:
“Extremely fast downhill and loves to get his hands dirty in the run game, striking through his target with strong hands to finish. Dixon has an accurate first step with the quickness and range to play both sidelines with an alert, active mentality. Displays the feet and overall body coordination to hold up on an island if needed. Excellent size/speed athlete with the fluidity and natural speed to cover the entire field, making plays behind the line of scrimmage and in the deep half of the field. Works hard to shed blocks to make open-field stops and is a physical tackler. He is confident in coverage to jump routes and aggressively go after the ball.” – Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com.
Why does he fit in Dallas: Strong safety was not a strength last year. The Cowboys went through three of them – Will Allen, J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath. The Cowboys are hoping Wilcox and Heath, both rookies last year, grow into their roles. But it wouldn’t hurt to have options at the position. That’s where Dixon comes in. Most experts agree that Dixon needs a year or two to grow into the role of being a NFL strong safety and his credentials as a tough hitter makes him attractive to NFL teams.
The bottom line? As a fourth- or fifth-round grade he represents a value pick to whomever takes him. While he has the reputation as a hitter, Brugler points out that Dixon needs to work on wrapping up. The players he’ll defend in the NFL will be bigger and tougher and just running into them and laying a hit won’t necessarily bring that player down. He won’t be a Year 1 starter, but he has skills that can help on special teams right away and he could push Wilcox or Heath to get better in 2014 and then challenge for a bigger role in 2015. He’s worth considering.