However, isn’t real flexible when asked to sit into his stance, doubles over at the waist and allows his pad level to get too high when asked to turn and run. More of a strider who needs a couple steps to get going to begin with, but his lack of fluidity and balance when asked to turn and run really limits his initial burst down the field. Isn’t real clean with his footwork at this stage as well. Has a tendency to open up his hips prematurely in man coverage, struggles to consistently stay compact and balanced in his lower half and it really takes him a while to regain his footing when asked to redirect. Consistently is overextend with his footwork and too easily allows wideouts to separate down the field on him. Now, he is physical and tracks the football well, but he won’t see the consistent amount of underthrown passes vertically in the NFL that he sees in college.
Impression: A physically strapping corner with good size and ball skills, and he knows how to tackle in the run game. However, I wouldn’t trust the guy at this stage in man-to-man coverage at the next level. Looks more like a cover-two type corner only to me or a potential free safety prospect. Not as high on him as most."
Dowling's senior season was essentially a bust. Battling a variety of leg injuries, including a season-ending ankle fracture, Dowling only contributed 12 tackles after his previous season statistical average: 47 tackles, three interceptions, nine passes defensed over his first three seasons.
Dowling has plenty of positive game film on his resume and won't fall too far on draft day. His final status hinges on his ability to run. The lanky defender must answer scouts' questions about his health and pure speed. A 40 time faster than his expected 4.55 seconds in pre-draft workouts could keep Dowling among the top 64 picks.
Read & React: Experienced corner who has seen all the tricks. Rarely out of position, even against double-moves, due to his instincts and vision. Keeps an eye on the quarterback and breaks on the ball quickly. Height and long arms make it very difficult to beat him over the top.
Man Coverage: Has the long arms and good upper-body strength for an effective jam at the line of scrimmage. Is often able to disrupt route timing. Good balance and opens up his hips smoothly. Can lose a step in transition but has surprisingly good acceleration and at least fair straight-line speed. Rides the receiver downfield, keeping good contact throughout the route. Faster on the field than he'll be on the stopwatch.
Zone Coverage: Savvy zone coverage defender. High in his backpedal, but is surprisingly fluid. Keeps his eyes on the quarterback, but has a good sense of where his receiver is. Will bait the passer into making the throw. Reacts quickly because of his vision and acceleration.
Closing/Recovery: Lacks elite recovery speed, making him susceptible to double-moves by NFL route-runners. Shows good instincts, however, and his rare height and arm length make throwing over the top of him dangerous. Locates the football quickly and is an explosive leaper with good timing and good ball skills.
Run Support: Reads run quickly and fights through receiver blocks efficiently through lateral agility and good upper-body strength. Willing to take on bigger ballcarriers with no hesitation. Uses the sideline to help defend the run. Understands his role in keeping contain and pushes the action back inside when he can't make the play. Willing to take on blocks to free up teammates for the easy stop.
Tackling: Good balance and lateral agility to handle tackling smaller, quicker players in the open field. Breaks down well and makes strong, secure tackles. Likes to intimidate his opponent with big hits. Will hit-lift-drive the ballcarrier into the ground when he can, resulting in impressive stops. Good pursuit and takes good angles to the ball, masking a lack of elite straight-line speed.
Intangibles: Played a postgrad season for coach Robert Prunty at Hargrave Military Academy following his senior year at Deep Creek High School. Had appeared in 35 of a possible 37 games for the Cavaliers prior to his senior season. Only started twice in five games played in 2010 due to injuries. Fractured his left ankle Nov. 13 against Maryland. Well respected teammate. Hard worker. Team captain in 2010. Nominee for the 2010 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Dowling played wide receiver, both safety positions and corner in high school, and was a three star recruit coming into Virginia. Dowling has been starting since the final nine games of his sophomore year and played in every game up until his senior season after battling some nagging injuries.
Dowling is quite versatile, and his excellent size will be coveted by many NFL scouts. He has the size and skills to play safety on top of being a cornerback. He excels in zone coverage, and does a nice job keeping up with most receivers with his speed. He has a high football IQ, being a smart corner who diagnoses run and pass plays with ease. He can bait quarterbacks and doesn’t get lost in the backfield. He is a physical corner who fights for the ball and does a nice job of turning back and locating the football. He may be able to transition more into press coverage as he can get a jam on the receivers at the line.
The first thing that comes to mind is injuries. Dowling played injury free for the most part in his first three seasons, but he suffered three different injuries as a senior, finally ending his season with a fractured ankle in early November. Dowling’s speed is good, but it’s not exceptional, and he will struggle to keep up with speedy NFL wide receivers. He is susceptible to the double move, and doesn’t have very quick hips. He’ll need to work on his change of direction and improve in man coverage.
Prior to the 2010 season, Dowling was looked at as a surefire first round pick. His injury concerns could drop him down to as low as the early third round, however. I still see him as a second round pick and a number of teams will be targeting him in that 45-65 range. San Francisco, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore will be the most likely targets for him in the 2011 NFL Draft.
NFL Comparison: Charles Tillman"
Positive: Physically talented cornerback who's displayed starting potential for the next level throughout his college career. Plays with physicality, shows a burst of recovery speed, and makes plays all over the field. Better than average instincts, effectively reads receivers' eyes, and gets his head back around to locate the pass. Displays a terrific burst out of his plant, uses his frame to box out opponents, and has good hands. Works hard to get up the field and make plays against the run and screens.
Negative: Struggles following receivers out of their breaks. Lacks great top-end speed. Not a reliable tackler.
Analysis: Coming into his senior season, Dowling was rated as one of the top cornerback prospects in land. However, he watched his draft stock drop after spending most of the year on the sidelines with injury. He's still a quality next level prospect with the size and skill to break into a starting lineup if he gets back to prior playing form."
Negatives: Technique needs polishing... Can be tight in the hips... Can be late reacting to ball in man... Can struggle in deep coverage when he does not get his hips turned... Can struggle to recover... May struggle versus speed threats in the NFL... A little inconsistent... Seemed to play better and make more plays as a sophomore than junior"
Weaknesses: Better in bump-and-run then off coverage or close man from the LOS. Extremely bleak injury history which must all be closely evaluated. Has a very short resume. Has had a tendency to gamble too much, both with kill shots rather than "sure thing" tackles in run support, and with pick attempts rather than knockdowns (which sometimes burn him deep) in pass coverage.
Projection: 2nd rounder who, if he can regain his health and speed during the post-season process, may go higher."
In his junior campaign, Dowling tallied 58 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, 3.0 sacks and three interceptions. His 2008 season earned him a few accolades -- like second-team All-ACC honors -- and his 2009 campaign earned him plenty more conference accolades. The 2010 campaign has not gone well for Dowling. He has struggled with a nagging knee injury and has missed most of the season.
Dowling's size is what makes him such an attractive cornerback. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, Dowling has more size than most corners, but he does not lack the coverage skills or the speed to keep up with most NFL receivers. His size could also mean Dowling could play some safety and that versatility, not to mention his great cover skills, make him a very attractive prospect. Dowling's lack of playing time during his senior season has hurt his stock, but Dowling could have been a borderline first round pick last year. He needs to prove that his knee injury is healed sooner or later, but NFL scouts can look at his junior season and know that they have a quality player who is worthy of a late first round selection."
The first thing that jumps out at you about the Chesapeake, Virginia native is his size; the man is big for a cornerback. Standing at 6’ 2” and around 200 pounds Dowling has the size, length, strength and muscle to line up against the NFL’s super-sized receivers and believe, “I can lay an effective jam on this guy.” While he has great size and short-area abilities, his long speed is not elite. Because of that, Dowling’s post-season workouts (Senior Bowl, NFL Scouting Combine and Virginia pro day) will go a long way to determining how NFL teams perceive him.
While Dowling is a willing and occasionally nasty tackler, his fundamentals can be sloppy; he needs to keep his head up at all times, his backpedal needs work, and he wastes motion in his breaks. With NFL teams starting to prefer big-sized cornerbacks, Dowling might see his stock skyrocket if he has a superior senior season. Even though he starts the season as our fourth rated cornerback behind fellow-senior Prince Amukamara, as well as juniors Patrick Peterson and Aaron Williams, the ACC product is not that far off. Dowling has the potential to be one of the top-two cornerbacks selected next April, and could easily be a top-15 selection."
A pulled hamstring kept Dowling out of Virgnia's first four games. A lingering knee injury held Dowling to one game and another four more plays before a lingering knee injury sidelined him until a Nov. 13 game against Maryland. In the first quarter of that game, he fractured his left ankle.
To say Dowling has been snake bitten would be an understatement. But those injuries have also taken a large bite out of his draft stock. Considered a first-round pick before the year, Dowling might not hear his name called in the first two rounds."
I get a strong "Bust" vibe, here.
A borderline 1st Rounder before being beset upon by injuries in his Senior year, Dowling has very good Processing Speed ~ which I greatly value ~ but lacks the physical Lauch Velocity to compliment his mental gifts.
Seems to me he's best as a Free Safety, an idea which the venerable Wes Bunting ~ who tends to be 3 TouchDowns and a Field Goal ahead of the curve, anyway ~ has already broached: If he can see it in front of him, he has time to put his natural Strengths to work.
Hopefully, somebody'll realize this, and draft him for that purpose...Because I think he could get in way over his head as a CornerBack, particularly if he's drafted too early, which is all too likely.
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