The Baylor Bears have a talented safety in Ahmad Dixon. In their defensive scheme, he is a rover who needs to be able to play the run, man up against opponents in the slot, drop into zone, and rush the passer which takes an extraordinary football player to do well. The Bears are exchanging size for athleticism on the outside. In some of their nickel packages, Dixon slides over and Baylor looks to be running a 4-3 scheme with Dixon as an outside linebacker. As a junior, Dixon contributed 66 solo tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 pass deflections and 2 interceptions.
Dixon has the triangle numbers to be a great fit for what Baylor needs but he is a jack-of-all-trades and master of none type player right now with his technique. The experience at Baylor could make Dixon an attractive addition as a strong safety for certain schemes because he is so accustomed to playing in the box and in man coverage near the line of scrimmage but could also make for an interesting addition in nickel because of the range of skills he is learning. Dixon currently projects as a day three pick, but if he can polish his game in at least a few specific areas, he could move up into the second day in part because of his athletic potential.
Vitals & Build
Dixon is listed at 6’ 210lbs with a good mix of physical talent. He has the size, strength, and speed that teams will like for the safety position and there is little to suggest he cannot get even better in that department. Dixon seems to fluid enough hips to function in man coverage with good body control. Physically, Dixon is impressive and still appears to have the potential to get better, but he needs to improve in the technical and intangible parts of his game.
Dixon’s tackling can be frustrating. He is strong and can make an impact hit, but he lunges far too much and relies on shoulder bombs too much. Dixons has not showed much in terms of simply fitting up on tackles and driving through contact. To his credit, he does not miss often but he is certainly putting himself at risk of missing big plays, especially when going forward to the NFL.
Dixon has the ability to protect the edge and play with outside leverage in the running game. He needs to do a better job of diagnosing and getting to the ball carrier with consistency. His inconsistency as a tackler can make him a feast or famine player at times as a result. The experience he is gaining by playing up in the box and on the outside should actually make it somewhat easier to slide back to back end of the defense. He will not have to read and react quite as quickly and will be able to figure out his path of attack to cover the run. The other thing that could help him is defenses not accounting for him in their blocking scheme as much and being able to play unaccounted for when he does attack the run.
Dixon is accustomed to lining up near the line of scrimmage as well as at the linebacker level in coverage against the slot. He is accustomed to playing in man as well as dropping into zone coverage. Dixon is able to contribute in both areas but could improve in both.
He has pretty good hips and can run with receivers but needs to be more comfortable playing in tight spaces and in an opponent’s hip pocket. Whether it is a scheme design or his own choice, Dixon does not do much in terms of getting a jam off of the line which is peculiar. With his strength, it seems like a natural fit and he can control the receiver from start to finish but instead, he seems to let them run free and just run with them.
In terms of zone coverage, Dixon gets into his drops quickly and seems to have a good sense of where he needs to be and taking away passing lanes. He seems comfortable playing and reading the quarterback’s eyes. That said, he needs to do a better job of breaking on the ball and getting to the receiver to get in position to make plays on the football as well as being in position to reduce or eliminate yards after the catch. He needs to be a more of a playmaker in all areas of coverage.
Dixon has not had a chance to demonstrate a ton in terms of ball skills because he does not get his hands on enough passes. The pass deflections he has are actually when he is rushing the passer. Dixon does a great job of jumping up and getting his hands in the air to deflect passes when he is not going to make it to quarterback. Part of the reason he is somewhat of a project at this point is because he has not been able to get enough passes to be a playmaker in that area of his game.
Dixon has experience covering kickoffs and he goes down the field looking to make an impact. His tackling form, as mentioned, can leave something to be desired and could result in some ugly swings and misses, but he can make a big hit on the ball carrier.
Dixon is likely going to move to a strong safety in the NFL. His experience as a rover has given him a lot of experience in playing near the line of scrimmage, so teams that want to use a strong safety to cover a slot receiver or play against a tight end could like what he brings. He has work to do on his technique but he also has the potential to be a benefit in run defense. Based on what he has done to this point in his career, he projects as a backup and developmental player that has the upside to become an effective starter. In the meantime, Dixon could be someone who could help in a big nickel package and play that rover role he has for Baylor. Play out in space whether in zone or man and take away the alley while being able to keep a legitimate run defending presence. In a league that is increasingly employing read option with quarterbacks, teams can put a bunch of receivers on the field and use an athletic quarterback and running back to attack the small defense. A player like Dixon could conceivably be a specialist designed to help defend that option.
|Sat, Aug. 31||vs. Wofford|
|Sat, Sept. 7||vs. Buffalo|
|Sat, Sept. 21||vs. LA-Monroe|
|Sat, Oct. 5||vs. West Virginia|
|Sat, Oct. 12||at Kansas State|
|Sat, Oct. 19||vs. Iowa State|
|Sat, Oct. 26||at Kansas|
|Thu, Nov. 7||vs. Oklahoma|
|Sat, Nov. 16||vs. Texas Tech|
|Sat, Nov. 23||at Oklahoma State|
|Sat, Nov. 30||at TCU|
|Sat, Dec. 7||vs. Texas|
The first game that will really test the limits of what Dixon can bring and give him the opportunity to show the light has come on is when Baylor hosts Oklahoma. Oklahoma runs a spread system with a bunch of astronaut type receivers like Jalen Saunders and an athletic running back in Damien Williams. Two weeks later, the Bears go to Stillwater to play the Cowboys who have employed a similar offensive scheme. Finally, Baylor hosts Texas in their regular season finale and the Longhorns have talent on the outside like Make Davis while having two talented backs with size in Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown that will test how effective he can be as a run defender against strength.
Dixon seems comparable to Michael Huff formerly of the Oakland Raiders and now of the Baltimore Ravens. Huff was a first round disappointment who had impressive physical ability coming out of Texas but needed to improve with technique and had a slow transition to the NFL. Through hard work and patience on the part of the Raiders, he never was able to live up to the first round but did work himself into a starting caliber safety which is what the Ravens brought him to be.
Dixon has a ton of athletic ability and physical potential. The Baylor defense asks him to do virtually everything in their scheme which is good and bad. He has a ton of experience fulfilling all kinds of different roles which is great, but he has not really mastered any of them yet. Hopefully, this year he can progress at all of the phases of his game but if he can break through and really find a niche whether it be pass or run defense, it could make him a more attractive prospect. Still, the fact he has such a wide variety of experience and skills could make him a fit for a number of teams in the NFL Draft and while he projects as a third day pick with the potential to start down the road, Dixon could end up making a jump this year and moving himself up into the second day of the draft.