Jonathan Dowling NFL Draft 2014: Highlights, Scouting Report for Raiders S

Ian WhartonContributor IMarch 24, 2014

Western Kentucky defensive back Jonathan Dowling (1) can't haul in a first quarter pass as Alabama defensive back John Fulton (10) defends in an NCAA college football game at Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Dave Martin/Associated Press

Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky (HT: 6’3”; WT: 190 lbs.)

Oakland Raiders

Seventh Round: 247th Pick 

Combine Weigh In
603019033 1/8"9 1/4"
Combine Results
40 Yd-Dash10-Yard SplitVertBroad3-ConeShuttle
4.50N/A33.5"9' 8"7.044.24


  • Huge frame that allows him to stay at safety or to move to cornerback and match up with any receiver, including tight ends.
  • Very good speed over distance for his size. He’s able to make up large chunks of yards while the ball is in flight with his long strides.
  • Smooth backpedal when playing cornerback, which shows his ability to stay fairly low in his stance and will help when he triggers from pivot back to the ball.
  • He’s a big hitter in the secondary, often causing drops or fumbles. With his size and hitting ability, opposing receivers will always have to consider where he is on the field.
  • As a major recruit out of high school, he was considered an athlete, so he wasn’t very experienced at defensive back before Florida and Western Kentucky. His athletic traits and size help overcome his mental mistakes.
  • Made a big leap in eye discipline and mental processing from his junior season to his senior season. He was more comfortable as a deep safety after getting more experience. Since he’s underdeveloped, he has to continue to show growth to avoid wasting his great physical abilities.
  • Play recognition became more consistent in 2013. Starting the play in the right direction helps limit wasted movement.
  • Showed good closing burst in coverage, and his length helps defend passes. There is much less room for error against a big, quick cornerback.
  • Enough functional strength to bring down big tight ends, receivers and running backs. He can also fight through blocks to reach the ball-carrier.



  • He has very limited experience against top competition after starting only two seasons at Western Kentucky.
  • Primarily played deep safety, which is rare for this safety class, but he also relied on his athleticism to make plays. His technical skills are well behind where he needs to be to start in the NFL.
  • His hitting technique often draws penalties, as he leads with his shoulder. He’ll need to wrap up more consistently and use his great frame.
  • Not much of an impact player at the line of scrimmage, likely due to poor anticipation. He doesn’t trust his eyes yet, so he doesn’t attack the run gaps effectively or quickly.
  • Takes bad angles while pursuing ball-carriers. His acceleration cannot overcome the angles he chooses to take.
  • His attitude issues led to his dismissal at Florida. According to scouts I talked to at the Senior Bowl, he thinks he’s better than he is. 


Collegiate Statistics
2011Western KentuckyDNPDNPDNP
2012Western Kentucky68136
2013Western Kentucky6773

Personal Notes

  • First-Team All-Sun Belt in 2012 and 2013.
  • Dismissed from the University of Florida in 2010.
  • Former 4-star recruit, per Yahoo! Sports, from Bradenton, Fla.
  • Twitter handle is @TeamJDOWL.


Ratings Chart

Graph made by


Dowling is a boom-or-bust athlete. His physical traits suggest he could be very good with great coaching and improved discipline, but the NFL is full of great athletes, so his mental toughness will be tested. His best long-term position is possibly cornerback, where he can use his length and strength in zone coverages. Day 3 of the NFL draft is the place for many developmental players, and I believe Dowling deserves a chance in the middle of Day 3. 

Draft Projection: Fifth Round