Each Sunday we'll examine a potential draft pick for the Eagles -- first round or otherwise. Today we'll take a look at a safety out of Baylor.
Position: Strong Safety
Height/Weight: 6-0, 212
Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon is the most underrated safety available in the 2014 NFL draft. He doesn’t have a flashy name like Ha Ha (Clinton-Dix) or receive the praise of Louisville’s Calvin Pryor, but he’s just as talented, and in the right system, he could develop into the best safety from this year’s class.
A highly-touted high school recruit who was heavily sought after by the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma State, Tennessee and Texas. Dixon, who originally committed to the intrastate powerhouse Longhorns, had a last minute change of heart and decided to stay close to home in Waco and play for the Bears.
At the time and to this day, it’s extremely rare for a recruit from Texas to spurn the Longhorns, even though Baylor has been on the rise in recent years. But Dixon chose his own path, and while his decision may have cost him more acclaim during his collegiate career by not hooking up with the Horns, it all worked out well for Dixon.
A three-year starter at Baylor, Dixon, who amassed career totals of 288 tackles, 13 for a loss and four interceptions, was the heart and soul of the defense and was used all over the field. During his first two years as a starter, Dixon lined up at Baylor’s nickel “Bear” position where he was a hybrid linebacker/safety until he moved to strong safety full-time this past season.
For his efforts, Dixon was invited to the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine this offseason and performed well. Although he didn’t record the 4.39 40-time that he once generated at Baylor on the track in Indianapolis, he measured up well against the draft’s consensus top safeties and maintained his status as a strong third-round prospect.
Dixon will have another opportunity to show his skills in front scouts during Baylor’s Pro Day on March 19, where it’s likely he will want to try and improve on the 4.64 40 he posted at the Combine.
A consistent force and vocal leader, Dixon has the ability to become a complete safety. He has good size, speed and strength, as well as the athleticism to cover and instincts to make an impact at and behind the line of scrimmage. He plays the game with great confidence and passion and is an intimidating force who delivers a knock out punch. He explodes downhill, closes fast in pursuit and enjoys the physical aspects of the game as a sure wrap-up tackler. He works well with others in the secondary, takes good angles and is reliable. He’s a versatile defender, who can line up at multiple positions in the secondary and figures to be a factor on special teams at the next level.
There’s a lot to like about Dixon, but if he’s to reach his full potential he needs to continue to work on his awareness, as well as ball and cover skills. He’s a little stiff in his backpedal, tight-hipped and doesn’t transition smoothly. He doesn’t diagnose the action as fast as he should and arrives late in coverage on occasion. He plays with emotion and can be undisciplined at times. He was arrested in September 2013 for misdemeanor assault, but cleared of all charges -- NFL decision makers will want to hear more details about the situation from Dixon himself.
How he’d fit with the Eagles
The safety position hasn’t been too kind to the Eagles since the departure of Brian Dawkins in 2009. And, ever since Dawkins left for the Broncos, the Eagles have been searching for an answer through the draft and free agency to solidify the last line of defense. To date, it’s been a struggle, but the Eagles are hoping that the signing of former New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins as a free agent will be a part of the solution.
The signing of Jenkins provides the Eagles with a lot of options in the secondary, and gives them the flexibility to move personnel around and create confusion for the opposition. But just because Jenkins was signed doesn’t mean the Eagles won’t address the safety position at some point in the draft.
Bringing in a mid-round safety such as Dixon won’t excite the fan base, but he brings an attitude and intimidating presence to the field, plays physical in space and would give the Eagles another young, versatile defender that could contribute right away on defense and special teams. Not to mention, he would provide competition and depth to the strong safety position where 2013 fifth-round pick Earl Wolff is currently penciled in as the starter.
Prospect Reflection: Oshiomogho Atogwe (Stanford), 2005: Third round (66th overall) by St. Louis Rams
Draft Projection: Third or fourth round