Chuck Landon: Dobson puts Herd back on NFL radar
Marshall once had a reputation for producing first-round selections in the NFL Draft.
There was Randy Moss in 1998 to Minnesota, Chad Pennington in 2000 to the New York Jets and Byron Leftwich in 2003 to Jacksonville.
But, then, the Herd's NFL Draft production hit a decline.
Such current NFL players from Marshall as Doug Legursky, C.J. Spillman, Albert McClellan, Daniel Baldridge and Omar Brown all made the league via the free agent route.
It appears that trend is reversing, however.
First, Herd defensive end Vinny Curry was a second-round pick by Philadelphia in the 2012 NFL Draft and, now, it appears Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson will be selected in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft.
Just ask the quintessential NFL analyst himself, Mel Kiper Jr.
"A guy to watch out for is Aaron Dobson from Marshall," said Kiper during a conference call when asked about "sleeper" wide receivers. "He's a kid that could be a lot like Brian Quick was last year from Appalachian State.
"Dobson has size and didn't have a QB that could get him the ball on a consistent basis. He's very athletic. When he's had the opportunity to go up and make a play he's made it. He's very athletic.
"He could be in the late first round discussion or certainly in the early to mid-second round discussion as a guy that nobody is talking about that could emerge."
Dobson certainly isn't flying under the radar, that's for sure. That fact of NFL Draft life was proven again when Dobson was invited to participate in the NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis on Feb. 20-26.
The following analysis of Dobson appears on NFL.com. First, his strengths.
"Presents a tall, long build prototypical of outside vertical receivers," says the evaluation of the 6-foot-3, 204-pound Dobson. "Runs a bit high but has a fair three-step game off the line. Ankle flexion to create separation on comeback patterns.
"Possesses strong hands, length, and good concentration to snatch high and wide passes. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder and makes acrobatic one-handed catches. Can make a catch with a defender draped on him. Difficult for smaller cornerbacks to drag him down, as he will churn through contact to get the extra yardage. Able to free himself off press coverage using his hands."
Next, Dobson's weaknesses.
"Hasn't faced many top-level defenders during his career," says the analysis. "Owns strider's speed and NFL corners will make it more difficult for him to get into his routes. Not a burner, will have trouble creating consistent separation.
"The inconsistency of his blocking technique requires some work; he has the size to be effective but regularly hesitates to make contact, over-extends and fails to sustain against much smaller targets on the outside."
Then, the bottom line.
"The most promising pro receiver prospect from Marshall since Randy Moss -- has caught 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons," says the report. "Dobson might not have Moss' talent, but still possesses qualities that will likely see him selected in the first 100 picks."
NFL.com compared Dobson to Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice, who was a second-round choice by the Vikings and turned into a Pro Bowl caliber player.
So, yes, it appears the NFL Draft has re-discovered Marshall.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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