Steelers 2020 Rookie Scouting Report: Kevin Dotson | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

Louisiana offensive lineman Kevin Dotson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2020 NFL Draft
USA Today Sports

In the coming weeks, I will be summarizing the film notes from my personal pre-draft prospect scouting reports and take an in-depth look at the Steelers' 2020 rookie class (including undrafted free agents). What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where do they fit in with the Steelers? Be sure to check out each scouting report over the next few weeks to find out my thoughts on the newest members of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Next up, Kevin Dotson.

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Player Information

  • Name: Kevin Dotson
  • Date of Birth (Age): September 18, 1996 (23)
  • HometownWest Point, Mississippi (grew up in Plaquemine, Louisiana)
  • College: Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • Position: Guard
  • College Number: 75

Pro Day Results

  • Height: 6'4"
  • Weight310 lbs
  • Hands: 10 1/2"
  • Arms33"
  • Wingspan: 81 3/4"
  • 40 Yard Dash: 4.8 seconds (unofficial)
  • Bench Press: 34 reps
  • Vertical Jump: ---
  • Broad Jump: ---
  • 3 Cone Drill: ---
  • 20 Yard Shuttle: ---

Background

Kevin Dotson is redshirt senior who started 14 games in 2019 and 52 straight games out of a possible 54 over the course of his career. All of his starts came at right guard after he earned the starting job there two weeks into his redshirt freshman season in 2016. As a redshirt freshman, Dotson was named to the Sun Belt Conference All-Newcomer Team. He followed this up by being named second-team All-Sun Belt as a redshirt sophomore and first-team All-Sun Belt as a redshirt junior and redshirt senior. During his redshirt senior season, he was also named first-team All-American by the Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and Pro Football Focus and second-team All-American by Sporting News. He was the first Louisiana-Lafayette player to ever receive the honor of AP first-team All-American.

Dotson has extensive athletic bloodlines, including his father (played football at Louisiana-Lafayette), his mother (ran track at McNeese State), and two uncles (former NFL players).

Dotson was not invited to the 2020 NFL Combine.

Injuries

None reported.

Body Type & Athletic Ability

Dotson has solid height, weight, and arm length, and a good wingspan. He has very good hand size, particularly for an interior offensive lineman. Possesses a very broad frame with a muscular upper body, wide shoulders, and a barrel chest. Strong, solidly built lower body gives him a very good anchor. Possesses good overall athletic ability with good quickness and very good speed. Plays with elite explosiveness and functional strength. Adequate agility and balance due to occasionally playing stiff-legged with not much knee bend (will bend at the waist). Marginal footwork while working in space and in pass protection that can narrow his base and cause him to struggle changing directions laterally.

Strengths

  • Elite starting experience has led to very good fundamentals and football IQ
  • Reliable and durable
  • Blue-collar, lunch pail approach to the game
  • Play strength can't be missed; possesses elite strength in his arms, legs, and core
  • Experience in both inside and outside zone schemes, as well as gap schemes
  • On zone runs, he has good initial quickness, explosion, footwork, and pad level out of his stance
  • Has a good understanding of angles and landmarks at the first level, utilizing very efficient steps and solid leverage to work hip-to-hip on combo blocks at the point of attack on zone runs, generating very good movement
  • His leg drive is very good at the point of attack to create vertical movement as the post blocker in combos; does a very good job as the seal blocker as well, knocking defensive tackles over to the next gap, quickly identifying the flow of second-level defenders, and taking the necessary angles to climb to the second level
  • Effectively works across defenders faces on outside zone plays when reaching 1-, 2i-, or 3-technique defenders, fighting to seal the defender inside
  • An elite blocker on gap run plays; he has very good initial quickness out of his stance, creating elite movement at the point of attack due to low pad level, tight, strong hand placement, and a powerful leg drive
  • Easily washes defenders out of gaps on down/double team blocks by taking strong inside leverage
  • When pulling, takes very good paths by working inside-out to deliver punishing hits to unsuspecting defenders
  • Very good use of hands in both the run and pass game; heavy and powerful looking to deliver well-timed, well-placed knockout blows. Hand placement is tight with very good fit and demeanor and elite grip strength allows him to latch onto defenders and not let go. Good understanding of where hands need to be targeting on each defensive alignment/type of block
  • Elite competitive toughness; has the mentality of a bouncer looking to throw people out of the club
  • Works to finish every single block with the goal of putting opponents on their back; constantly looking to find work
  • In pass protection, good mental processing pre-snap to identify blitzes by second-level defenders; solid post-snap processing to quickly identify/pass off twists
  • Good eye demeanor with patient hands waiting to aggressively strike rushers
  • Very active hands in pass protection while always working to keep them inside and work "half a man"
  • Very stout, strong anchor in pass protection
  • Solid jump sets in pass protection in quick passing game/play action; allows him to aggressively attack defenders and bring out his run blocking mentality
  • When uncovered, he is quick to find work and help out the linemen around him
  • Brings the same elite competitive toughness and relentless motor in the pass game that he does in the run game; even when he is beat, he constantly fights to recover and rectify his mistakes

Weaknesses

  • Will play stiff-legged, leading to marginal lateral agility out of his stance
  • Lower body rigidity and over-extending his arms cause him to become top-heavy and fall off of blocks
  • On zone runs, his struggles laterally show up if a defensive lineman stunts across his face at the snap, where he has shown an adequate job in recovering and athletically adjusting his plan on the fly
  • Marginal lateral agility shows up when attacking second-level defenders in open space; puts himself in the right spot by climbing with good angles and then will over-pursue or get faked out, often lunging at the defender
  • Has a tendency to duck his head when approaching contact in space while attempting to deliver a big blow
  • Adequate athleticism in open space when pulling or looking for work on screens
  • Overall, pass protection is adequate; displays adequate footwork out of his stance with higher pad level and a narrower base, causing some issues when sliding in zone protection or mirroring pass rushers in man protection
  • Displays marginal pass sets against athletic, gap-penetrating 3-technique defensive linemen that can beat him with speed; angles and depth against these looks are adequate
  • Spent a lot of his time in college using jump sets to quickly get his hands on defenders with the hopes of getting the ball out quickly; asking him to maintain longer, 45-degree pass sets can be troublesome
  • Can be beat by counter moves/cross-face inside rushes
  • Adequate recovery speed when beat in pass protection

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Fit with the Steelers & Projection

With the retirement of Ramon Foster and departure of B.J. Finney, the Steelers were in need of additional offensive line help this offseason. They made some progress in that area with the signing of veteran Stefen Wisniewski. In my eyes (and obviously the Steelers), this did not change the Steelers' need to address the position on draft day. Kevin Dotson did not receive the same hype that some of the other linemen in this draft class did (including fellow Ragin' Cajun offensive lineman Robert Hunt) but that should not be viewed as a negative to the type of player Dotson could be in the NFL.

Dotson is a developmental guard prospect with starting upside who you can win with in both a gap/power run scheme and a zone run scheme. Dotson is at his best when operating in confined spaces, utilizing down blocks, double teams, combo blocks, and quick pulls to be a true "people-mover" in the run game. His elite competitive toughness, play strength, and sound technical foundation stand out in the 2020 NFL draft class. He struggles with working in space, with maintaining lateral agility, and with his footwork, balance, and base in pass protection, particularly with longer 45-degree sets.

In Pittsburgh, Dotson will transition from his old right guard spot to compete for the starting job at left guard due to the vacancy left by Foster. I think he will be given every chance to compete for the starting job in 2020 but he has a few factors working against him at this point. His abilities as a run blocker should allow him to stand out early on in training camp by creating giant holes for running backs behind him, but the biggest issue with his game is his footwork and balance in pass protection. Too often, he finds himself playing with higher pad level and a narrower base. This could prove to be problematic when trying to stay balanced on longer pass sets, which is an essential part of the Steelers' vertical passing game. He will realistically need to improve in this area before truly pushing Wisniewski (or even Matt Feiler) for the starting left guard gig. The Steelers might also feel compelled to give Dotson time to develop if they see enough progression from Chukwuma Okorafor or Zach Banner to hold down the right tackle spot and automatically move Feiler, their versatile chess piece, inside. Because of the ongoing pandemic, Dotson is also being robbed of the opportunity to begin working on the field this spring with the Steelers' coaching staff to improve on these technical issues with his pass protection.

I should also note that Dotson was reportedly working on learning center during the draft process, which would add another feather to his cap in terms of utility and versatility to the Steelers' offensive line. Being able to play all three positions along the interior is a trait the Steelers covet in their interior offensive linemen.

As previously mentioned, Dotson was not invited to the 2020 NFL Combine and was widely considered to be the biggest snub in the annual event this year. Had he been invited to the combine and the pandemic had not impacted his ability to have a traditional Pro Day, pre-draft visits, and pre-draft workouts, I believe based on his tape that Dotson could have been a day two selection in the draft. Falling to the fourth round like he did provided the Steelers with fantastic value to select a lineman who should compete for the starting left guard position as a rookie in 2020 (and could lock that spot down if he flashes enough in training camp and the preseason) and has all of the tools to potentially earn that spot by year two in 2021 if he is unable to do so this year.

If he can improve his footwork and balance in pass protection and make his run blocking even stronger than it already is, Dotson has all of the traits you look for both physically and mentally to become a long-term starter at guard in the NFL.





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  1. Awesome breakdown on Dotson! I would love to see Dotson become a starter for the team, I agree with the article and can definitely see him make an impact and prove his worth as a starter. Based on this Steelers Outlook here https://prosportsoutlook.com/outlooks/?league=nfl&team=2486, I don’t see Dotson as a starter for this season. However, given his skill trait he for sure has potential to become a starter soon if he keeps improving and manages to stand out in preseason.

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