The New England Patriots selection of Florida’s Duke Dawson with the No. 56 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has drawn comparisons to 2016 second-round pick Cyrus Jones.
With a need to add speed and depth to the defensive unit, the New England Patriots went cornerback with their third pick in the NFL draft with the selection of Duke Dawson out of the University of Florida.
At 5-foot-11, 197 pounds, Dawson was projected to go in round 3 or 4, but was a player targeted by the Patriots even prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. In many ways, he is the prototypical defensive back the team typically targets.
With fast feet, an aggressive style and competitive nature, Dawson is a slot cornerback versatile enough to play different spots in the defensive backfield. In fact, the Patriots liked his game enough that the team would’ve drafted him at No. 43 according to Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio.
"“So when you’re looking up there you’re assessing the value of the player and looking at it relative to what your options may be,” Caserio said following the second round, via WEEI. “If you were going to pick the same player – I mean, that’s a player that we theoretically were going to talk about at No. 43, so if you can get the same player at a later time and pick up an extra pick or two along the way, it makes some decent sense to do that.”"
In his ability to play the slot along with his overall ability to play all over the field, Duke Dawson has drawn comparisons to former Patriots cornerbacks like Alfonso Dennard and Kyle Arrington.
He is also expected to give third-year cornerback Cyrus Jones some major competition once training camp begins.
Not just another Cyrus Jones
In selecting Dawson, the New England Patriots have added to cornerback group that now consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Ryan Lewis, Jomal Wiltz and Cyrus Jones.
Out of that group, Cyrus Jones appears to be the player Dawson’s selection will affect the most. Coming off a season-ending ACL tear and a rather forgettable rookie season in 2016, Jones already had a lot to prove in 2018.
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Now, with Dawson in the mix, it does appear the Patriots could be ready to move on from their 2016 second-round pick if he struggles once again in training camp. While both players mirror one another both in size and ability, Dawson already seems to have the type of attitude to make it as an NFL player. The type of attitude Cyrus Jones is still trying to translate to the field entering his third season.
That positive attitude was highlighted during his introductory conference call following his selection.
"“I’m a very humble guy,” Dawson said, via Patriots.com. “I just come in and do what is said. I’ve never been a guy that came in conceited, cocky. I’ve just always been humble and mellow. I’m just a laid-back guy. When it’s time to turn up and do the things I like to do, that’s when things start to get even better for me. I just like to come in and help in any way that I could. It really don’t matter where I get put. I just want to come in and help this team in any way I can.”"
Duke Dawson also noted his own competitiveness when asked about his thoughts on Malcolm Butler, who the Patriots lost in free agency this offseason. He said it is something that has been instilled in him since he was very young and something that will shine its way through in New England