This former Louisiana Tech back has the NFL Draft and fantasy worlds scrambling for more info. Perhaps interest was originally piqued by the NCAA all-time rushing touchdown leader chase that Dixon had with Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds? However, there is more to the story than his 72 trips to the end zone. I reviewed his games against Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, Illinois (2014), Oklahoma (2014), Marshall (2014), and his Senior Bowl game along with televised practices to get a better idea of his skill set.
RB-Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech 5′ 10″ 215 lbs. Cons: The Louisiana Tech program did not always play the toughest of competition which questions how much of his scoring acumen really transfers to his NFL future. The runner seemed to score in bunches, which included a four touchdown effort against Middle Tennessee and a six touchdown effort versus North Texas in his senior year. When he is running with the ball, he likes to give up a “dead leg” trying to get defenders focus their attention there, then changes direction with his hips and other leg. This worked well in college, but would be very transparent as a professional. His pass protection is a work in progress as he shows good effort, but does not always set his feet and anchor for contact.
Dixon cannot create space on his own and will need a sliver of room to get past the line of scrimmage. The runner’s short yardage work came into question during the Senior Bowl week along with less than spectacular leg strength, despite his college scoring records. Also the 890+ collegian touches may also catch up with him sooner than later, can the back work past that?
Pros: Dixon has a nice combination of burst and balance, showing patience and the ability to get small in the hole. He has quick, bouncy feet that allow him to start and stop without wasted motion, usually making the first defender miss. The back runs low and behind his pads, while preferring to run between the tackles. His good vision helps read blocks downfield (the few times they were there) and lets him jump cut away from danger using his loose hips. In the open field, Dixon throws out a combination of spin moves, shoulder shakes, and straight-arms to gain separation. The runner keeps his legs driving, trying to break free, and always falls forward, fighting for each additional inch.
He is an asset in the passing game as a receiver. On occasion, the back lined up in the slot when his team used five wide sets. Dixon has good hands, but at times fought catching the pigskin with his body. The runner can get into the flat in a hurry and was quite scary on wheel routes (getting behind the defense). He grabs the ball in stride and is a threat to score anytime in open space.
Overview: I love this guy, if he lands in the right situation. Dixon, at times, reminds me of a very raw Emmitt Smith, but is probably closer to a Jay Ajayi. Sure he has his warts, but there is plenty of upside there too. At this time, I have him in my top four rookie running backs. Thanks for reading.
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