Xzavier Dickson, Outside Linebacker
Height — 6’ 3"
Weight — 260 pounds
Hands — 10 inches
Arm Length — 33.5 inches
40 Yard Dash — 4.74 seconds (1.71 seconds 10 yard split)
20 Yard Shuttle — 4.53 seconds
3 Cone Drill — 7.56 seconds
Bench Press — 19 reps @ 225 pounds
Vertical Jump — 29.5 inches
Broad Jump — 8 feet, 4 inches
A four-year letterman at the Capstone, Xzavier Dickson started his career as one of several true freshmen contributing on the legendary 2011 Crimson Tide defense as a backup to current Baltimore Raven Courtney Upshaw. A part-time starter in 2012 and a rotational player in 2013, Dickson finally became the nominal starter at jack linebacker in 2014, starting eight of the Tide’s final nine games at that spot and nine games overall. He responded by leading the Tide in sacks and tackles for loss with 9 and 12.5 respectively, both good for top-10 marks in the SEC. As those numbers would suggest, Dickson was by far the most effective pass rusher for a unit not particularly known for excellence in that area, and was a critical defensive piece for the 2014 SEC Champions.
Size and Speed — Dickson is the latest in a long line of oversized linebackers produced at Alabama during the Saban era, among the tallest and heaviest linebackers that participated at this year’s draft combine. He also possesses some of the longer arms in the class at 33.5 inches. While not a burner for the position, Dickson’s mid-4.7 40 time is 15th overall in the class, and quite good when considering his size.
Experience — As noted, Dickson played all four years at the Capstone, logging time in 47 out of a possible 54 games and notching 16 starts overall. Those four years came in the same system that has produced star linebackers in C.J. Mosley, Dont’a Hightower, and Rolando McClain, as well as the aforementioned Upshaw and lesser contributors in Adrian Hubbard, Nico Johnson, and Jerrell Harris.
There’s a dearth of Dickson highlights available online, but Patriots.com has put together a nice package.
Run Support — Even the most ardent Crimson Tide fan would admit that Dickson is a bit of a one-trick pony, as he has never been an effective player against the run. While possessive of an imposing frame for a linebacker, Dickson lacks the strength to effectively bring down more powerful players, and has issues setting and maintaining the edge and disengaging from his blocker.
Explosiveness and Finishing — Good fundamentals at the line of scrimmage created a plethora of opportunities for Dickson, but simply put he is not athletic enough to be a dominant pass rusher at the next level. Dickson was among the low performers in the vertical and broad jumps, bench press, and 3 cone drill for linebackers at the combine, indicating a lack of explosiveness, strength, and agility, respectively. As far as the tape is concerned, when Dickson was able to beat his man he was often a step slow in getting to the quarterback, resulting in hurries and hits but comparatively few sacks/TFLs with respect to opportunity. A more frequent sight was deep penetration into the backfield coupled with the same inability to disengage from his blocker that hindered his effectiveness in the run game.
Despite the concerns with his athleticism, there’s plenty to like here, particularly as a situational rusher. Dickson is nominally a linebacker, but played more of a hybrid DE/LB role at Alabama with his hand in the dirt on many plays. Fellow Crimson Tide alums Wallace Gilberry and Mark Anderson, while slightly different body types, both carved out nice careers as situational rush ends (Gilberry is still active), and this is the most likely spot for Dickson at the next level. A probable third day pick, Dickson will surely be scooped up on the free agent market if he doesn’t have his name called at the draft.