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Chuck Landon: Dobson gets help from NFL veteran

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 12:08 AM

John Thornton recognizes a genuine NFL prospect when he sees one.

He should.

After an All-American career at West Virginia University, Thornton spent the next 10 years playing defensive tackle for the NFL's Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals.

But, now, he is making the unique transition from former pro football player to current professional consultant with his own management firm, "Jockbiz," located in Cincinnati.

And one of his clients?

None other than former Marshall star wide receiver Aaron Dobson.

"I've got about 10-12 clients right now in the NFL," said Thornton. "I just assist them on coming out of college and going through the NFL Draft process and throughout their careers.

"Me, playing 10 years in the NFL recently, I have a lot of experience with what to do and what not to do on and off the field. I try to give them guidance about avoiding pitfalls, showing them how to study and telling them how important training is, along with staying away from certain people and certain situations."

But Dobson? Well, it didn't take Thornton long to discover the Dunbar, W.Va., native isn't a prototypical NFL Draft prospect.

"It's definitely rare to have a kid like that," said Thornton. "He has always been at home. He went to school close to home. He's a good kid from a good family. I think he'll be fine. But he still needs some guidance.

"If he gets drafted by Seattle and goes out there, it will be a totally different world for him. So, I just think the more guidance guys like that can get, the better."

That's particularly true during the next three days. The 2013 NFL Draft begins with round one Thursday night, followed by rounds 2-3 Friday and rounds 4-7 Saturday.

Although Dobson is projected as a second-round selection, Thornton doesn't believe that is etched in draft stone.

"I've had guys they said that about and they go in the first round and some have gone in the third," he said. "You never know. When they target you in a round ... I think he's in that area. I kind of see him as a second-round pick. But that could just as easily be a third-round pick and, hopefully, not a fourth.

"He's got the skill set. He's tall, he's fast and he can catch. And that's valuable. It just depends on if there's a run on receivers. If there are two or three or four in the first round, then I would say Aaron would go somewhere in the second.

"If there's only one or two in the first round, then ... I'd honestly think anywhere from late first to the third round."

OK, so that's an idea of when Dobson might get drafted. Now, how about where?

"That stuff is so crazy," said Thornton. "When I came out (1999), I thought I was going to Jacksonville. But a team (Tennessee) that never even talked to me, drafted me. I had never met with them, never talked to them, I didn't see them at my pro day ... so, it's hard to say.

"But I'd say the teams that I think like him the most are the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers love him. I think the Cleveland Browns showed a lot of interest late. If I had to pick a couple teams, I would pick the Steelers and the Seahawks and probably the New England Patriots.

"If I had to guess where he'll go, it probably would be one of those teams."

Considering the source, that's what I'd call an informed opinion.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827, or email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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