NFL Draft Preview: Jeremiah Dinson

Monday, April 20, 2020

NFL Draft Preview: Jeremiah Dinson

NCAA Football: Tulane at Auburn Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

A huge comeback spanning several years spawned one of the more reliable defenders in the SEC.

Yesterday we looked at Noah Igbinoghene and his road to a potentially-high pick in the NFL Draft. Today, we take a gander at a mate in the defensive backfield in Jeremiah Dinson.

Both of these guys have taken interesting roads to get where they are today. Iggy moved from offense and turned into one of the speediest cornerbacks in the SEC. Dinson’s journey was a little different.

If you remember, a wide-eyed and promising freshman campaign flipped upside down after a dirty and egregious hit in College Station.

Thank you, Ricky Seals-Jones, you feckless thug. The dirty hit tore every ligament in Dinson’s right knee, dislocated the knee, and dislocated his left shoulder as well. If that’s not the kind of wakeup call that might tell most players “Maybe a higher power doesn’t want me to be playing this game” then I don’t know what message some people need to hear.

Dinson certainly had plenty of time to ponder his future. That incident occurred in November 2015. Nine months later, Dinson dressed out for the season opener in 2016 at home against Clemson, but didn’t play. In fact, the first time he’d see the field would come a full year later when the Tigers welcomed Georgia Southern to the Plains. He made one tackle that night as Auburn rolled in the season opener. All during 2017, Dinson averaged a few tackles per game, and hadn’t really returned to the type of player that was recruited out of high school.

We flipped the page to 2018 and things returned to normal. Dinson began the campaign in the win over Washington with 7 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, a sack, and a pass breakup. Five weeks later he recorded 15 tackles and an interception in Starkville. It was safe to say that he’d returned. In two of Auburn’s most hotly contested games this past season, Dinson only recorded 13 tackles in the win over Oregon, and 15 in the slim loss at LSU. He finished the regular season with double digit tackles in the win over Alabama as well. In Auburn’s biggest games, he showed the will to rise to the top, and he finished the year as a Second-Team All-SEC performer and the highest-graded safety in the SEC.

Dinson needs to get an edible arrangement for Shaun Shivers.

As far as his NFL Draft prospects go, he’s going to head into Thursday’s event as one of the surest tacklers of all defensive backs. He’s sound enough schematically to earn playing time at multiple positions over the past few years, and that’ll help him understand NFL offenses a little bit better. He can also take partial credit for doing the best job in limiting Joe Burrow and the historic LSU offense from this past season, as his 15 tackles in Baton Rouge helped Auburn stay close in a 23-20 defeat.

So, he’s a sure tackler, and a guy that’s got the range to defend everyone in coverage from receivers to backs and everyone in between. He can roll down toward the line of scrimmage to seek out contact. What are teams going to be scrutinizing, however?

We touched on it off the top. His injury history is going to be a big topic of conversation for teams trying to find the perfect specimen to invest in. It helps Dinson that he was durable as hell over the past three seasons, but the pure severity of the injury in 2015 will cause some teams to hesitate. In terms of size for a free safety, he doesn’t possess elite measurables. He’s generously listed at six feet tall, but that might be optimistic. There are plenty of undersized safeties, but you’ve got to be absolutely perfect in your execution to make it at a high level. Dinson might have a few holes in his recognition of certain plays —

— but he’s not alone in that regard. When you’re the tops in the SEC, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Will Dinson get his name called this coming week? I hope so, but I’m not sure he will. He never was a flashy player, just a solid one. With the injury history, that may relegate him to undrafted free agent territory, which I think will be his overall destination when this one is said and done.

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