By: Josh Keatley, DLD Contributor
When analyzing a draft class, most scouts focus on the prospects who have proven themselves against elite BCS level competition, but there are always small school players that have the potential to make waves. Small school guys are always very raw and come into the league with a chip on their shoulder. This can make them very dangerous and worth the risk, and that’s where a guy like Brandon Dixon comes into play.
Brandon Dixon, CB
School: Northwest Missouri St.
Weight: 203 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 1/2“
40-yard Dash: 4.41 seconds
Bench: 17 reps
Broad Jump: 117“
Three Cone: 7.15 seconds
20- yard Shuttle: 4.27 seconds
Dixon attended high school at Coconut Creek High in Florida and committed to become a Kansas State Wildcat before finding out that he did not have the grades to enroll. Due to his poor grades he decided to play with his brother Brian Dixon at Joliet Junior College. Brandon was a lockdown corner in the JUCO scene during his Sophomore year earning a selection as a first team all- conference member. After his Sophomore year he was able to receive more offers from BCS level schools, but again grades held him from his Division I dreams.
Even though he was not going to be able to play as a Wildcat he was able to transfer to become a Bearcat. Division II school,
Northwest Missouri St. welcomed both of the Dixon brothers with open arms.
Brandon Dixon wasted no time earning a role at his new home as he started every game his Junior year. After the year he was selected as a second team All- MAIAA member and as a third team Division II All- American. Dixon exploded onto the NFL draft scene during the season opener of his Senior season against Saginaw Valley St. He showed the ability to hang with the big boys when he limited well-respected draft prospect Jeff Janis to only 49 yards on just three receptions in the season opener.
In the same game he struck gold with a 70 yard fumble return for a touchdown which occurred during a botched field goal attempt. Those impressive statistics mixed in with his one pass break- up and three tackles earned him the honor of MIAA Defensive Player of the Week.
The rest of the season did not disappoint as he continued to maul whoever he was covering. Not only did he finish the year as a first team All- MAIAA selection, but he was elected as a first team All- American for all of Division II.
The biggest difficulty scouts face when evaluating a prospect that is from a smaller school is whether or not their game will translate to the much higher competition that is waiting in the NFL. Dixon has the physical mentality and size to match with any receiver at the next level, and not only is he tall with solid length, but his thick build contains impressive strength to press most receivers and bring support on runs.
Then there is the speed and quickness that he put on display at the combine by running the fifth fastest time of any CB with a 4.41 second run. His long speed makes him easy to trust when he is one on one, as he very rarely gets beaten deep.
So far Dixon seems like the picture perfect CB prospect, but his ball skills are atrocious. He displays arguably the worst ball skills of any CB in this class as he seems to lack any kind of sixth sense to make a play on the ball. He seems to rarely turn his head in time to even see the ball and when he does turn his head he either drops it due to his very small hands or never even locates the ball at all. Any ball that he might intercept has to be thrown right at him and even then there is no guarantee.
Teams that are willing to spend some time on a developmental yet versatile prospect like Dixon will most likely select him in the later rounds in hopes that he can eventually make an impact, whether it be on defense or special teams. His physicality makes him very enticing to teams that run the press frequently and his speed should make it easier for him to develop as a solid nickel back. In most cases a defensive back of his size and physicality would be considered to make a transition to safety. His poor tackling skills, lack of awareness, and lack of playmaking ability will force teams to scratch that off his list.
Like most prospects labeled as developmental, he has many desirable physical traits. Most of his problems can be solved with good coaching: for example, his failure to wrap up when going in for tackles. Instincts and awareness on the other hand are hard to coach. As was discussed above, Dixon lacks the ability to make plays and be the difference maker that teams desire. Playing at the Division II level where he was clearly the best athlete on the field 90% of the time gave him plenty of opportunities to prove himself and he could not. This will result in him being a late round selection.
Draft Projection: Seventh Round
Vs. Saginaw Valley St. (‘13)
- Almost perfect game in coverage
- Did fail to turn head around multiple times
- Showed speed and explosion on fumble return
- Showed no fear battling Janis (6‘3“) in air
- Did show great awareness on a few plays that were not directly at him
Vs. Pittsburgh St. (‘13)
- Allowed speedster John Brown to only catch three passes for 17 yards
- Showed no fear in traffic shedding blocks
- Showed great speed vertically
- Only had three tackles and did get lost in traffic in run support
- Looked lost in zone