TCU All-America linebacker Paul Dawson can’t change what happened at a dismal showing at the NFL combine last month in Indianapolis.
But Dawson is doing his best to prove that he’s better than the Indy numbers showed.
He took another step in that process Friday at TCU’s pro day where a slimmed-down Dawson posted better numbers across the board at TCU’s indoor practice facility in front of a bevy of NFL scouts.
Dawson was lighter (230 vs. 235), faster (4.77 vs. 4.93) and jumped higher (30 inch vertical vs. 28 inch) on his home turf and believes he may have changed some people’s opinions of him after the combine.
"I just got to be too heavy," Dawson said of the combine. "That was my goal to game some weight in the upper body and lower body. But I just felt like I was too heavy. And then I tweaked my hamstring in the first 40. I decided to keep competing with everybody. I should have shut it down, but it is what it is. I came out there and did what I was supposed to do."
Following his workout with more than a dozen other TCU players Dawson met with the St. Louis Rams and had another meeting scheduled with the New Orleans Saints. While Dawson is a Dallas native and the Cowboys had several representatives on hand Friday, Dawson has nothing scheduled with them. He also doesn’t think he’ll participate in the Cowboys’ pro day for area prospects.
While Dawson may have answered some questions about his combine numbers Friday there are still plenty of people who have character questions about Dawson. Gary Patterson, his head coach at TCU, isn’t one of them.
"Guys can change a lot when they get fined," Patterson said. "You start taking money and you start doing that. Paul’s a little bit more of an attention. Some guys don’t know the difference. I think Paul knows the difference. In his case, it’s kind of like the (Chick fil A) bowl game was perfect. I told him you’ve got to screw up, you’ve got to be late for something, you’ve got to talk back. He had one week where he did that and he didn’t play very well. You’ve got to go back what makes Paul Dawson be Paul Dawson."
Dawson believes the character issues are behind him and a lot of that has to do with his daughter Destane, who just turned two.
"Time management," Dawson said of his issues. "Making the wrong choices. Hanging with the wrong people who were also TCU players. But I decided to — you know, I got a daughter. I couldn’t provide for her being late just making those wrong decisions. I wanted to be able to provide for her. I went out and got my own house and just cut off the people that I was hanging with. I still hung with them when we went out or whatever, but I just started doing my own thing and making the right choices."
He made plenty of right choices on the field.
Dawson, who was named to four different All-America teams and was the Big 12 defensive player of the year, had a hand in 136 tackles, registered six sacks, had four interceptions and forced three fumbles for a TCU team that just missed the College Football Playoffs and went 13-1.
"One thing Paul has and I think you have to have at that level is pure talent and instincts," Paterson said. "He’s a great tackler. He reacts quick. It’s kind of like the pick he had against Oklahoma. He read the quarterback’s eyes, he made the play and he got a pick six. He’s just one of those guys that he does you can’t coach."