Dawson Deaton is considered to be one of the most versatile offensive linemen in this year’s draft. In his career at Texas Tech, he has played every position from tackle to guard to center. Over the past three years, Deaton has settled in at the center position. This past year, Deaton’s willingness to play any position was recognized as he was named a captain of the Red Raider program. Deaton is a massive center from a height and length perspective but he uses this to his advantage at times. Deaton does a good job shooting his hands and contacting defenders to stop them in their rush sequence. He also has the power and overall body mass to anchor down on defenders who are trying to bull rush. While Deaton plays center in college, he may be best served moving to one of the guard positions so he doesn’t have to have as much initial quickness and he can use his length to help on the edges a bit more.
Ideal Role: Center or guard
Scheme Fit: Zone run scheme
Written by Keith Sanchez
Games watched: Oklahoma State (2020) Texas (2021), Oklahoma (2020), Texas (2020)
Best Game Studied: Texas (2021)
Worst Game Studied: Oklahoma (2020)
Competitive Toughness: Deaton is a tough and gritty player. He plays with aggressiveness and really battles with defenders at the center position. When approached by bull rushes, he invited the contact and delivers the blow back to defenders.
Balance: Deaton plays in an upright stance that can present him with balance issues at times. When he has to move laterally, he struggles to stay balanced and isn’t able to regather himself in pass protection. In the run game, second-level defenders are easily able to evade Deaton’s blocks because he plays high and loses balance upon contact.
Anchor Ability: One of Deaton’s best traits is his ability to anchor. When defenders try to bull rush themselves through Deaton, he has the overall strength to stop pass rushers and anchor down to prevent from being pushed into the pocket. At center, his ability to quickly anchor helps quarterbacks who are trying to step up in the pocket to evade the rush.
Lateral Mobility: Lateral mobility is a trait that Deaton struggles with. He lacks the proper bend in his lower half to be able to move laterally under control. Deaton is a one-flow player and laterally struggles to redirect to react to defenders.
Power At POA: In the run game, Deaton has good power at the snap. He has enough strength to get movement on defenders at the line of scrimmage. While he shows to have good initial power, it isn’t sustained due to his inability to stick on blocks.
Hand Technique: Deaton uses his hands to engage with defenders in pass protection well. He times it up well and has good length to make contact with defenders before they make contact with him. The one aspect of Deaton using his hands that he needs to improve is his placement. At times, he will get his hands on the outside of defenders and it could lead to holding penalties.
Football IQ: Centers are usually one of the smartest players on the field because of all the responsibilities they have. Deaton lives up to this expectation in the fact that he can make adjustments pre-snap. Post-snap, he does a good job picking up second-level blitzes and stunts.
Versatility: During his time at Texas Tech, Deaton has played almost every position along the offensive line. Even though he settled into the center position for the red raiders he has the length to play other positions along the offensive line. Deaton’s frame suggests that he can play tackle, but I do question his overall foot quickness to play there.
Pass Sets: Deaton has the length and overall strength to be an effective pass rusher, but he seems to lack foot quickness and reactionary athleticism. Speed across his face gives him issues and defenders can beat him at the snap. There seems to be a delayed moment of him snapping the ball and being able to seal off the gap that the defender is attempting to penetrate.
Flexibility: Deaton has an upright stance and lacks the proper knee bend associated with playing center. Deaton struggles to bend his knees and drop his weight so he can play with good leverage. This leads to him not being able to move laterally and getting beat by defenders who perform counter moves in their pass rush sequence.
TDN Consensus: 68.00/100 (Sixth Round Value)
Crabbs Grade: 69.50/100
Sanchez Grade: 67.50/100