New England Patriots rookie cornerback Duke Dawson hasn’t been a disappointment, nor has he been a revelation.
Frankly, he’s been a non-factor, which is strange for a second round pick. He’s the first second-round pick under Bill Belichick to be on the 53-man roster while not getting activated to the game day roster during his rookie season.
The cornerback started the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. That may not have set him back physically for the entire regular season — he returned to the 53-man roster in Nov. 13. Still, the injury did enough to put him at the bottom of the depth chart. He fell behind Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, JC Jackson, Keion Crossen, Jon Jones and, before he got injured, Eric Rowe.
“We all know what went down and what happened with me with my injury,” Dawson told Patriots Wire Friday. “Of course, my rookie season didn’t go as planned. I had goals set, as I always had. Just being able to — I wanted to be able to come in and show my talents.”
He hasn’t had the chance to show those talents to the rest of the league. But he has had the chance to show what he can do while Belichick and company are watching. How does he feel he’s done showing his talents to his coaches?
“They do all the evaluating. I compete with myself a lot, more than anybody else, because I want to better myself as a human being on the field and off the field,” Dawson said. “Just being able to learn from my mistakes every day — that’s the biggest thing.”
With Gilmore looking like one of the best cornerbacks and Jackson playing like one of the best rookie cornerbacks, there hasn’t been much room for Dawson on the starting roster. It’s certainly strange to see Crossen, a core special teams contributor, play above Dawson. But Belichick values special teams contributors in a big way — and so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising.
So Dawson doesn’t spend much time worrying about the fact that he’s the first healthy second-rounder not to get on the game day roster.
“It really don’t. I don’t listen to the outside noise,” he said. “The only thing I can control is what is inside this building and I can do. … I consider myself somewhat different [than previous second round picks]. I don’t compare myself to others. Once you start doing that, you start getting away from what you do and yourself.”