How Brandon Dixon Fits with the New York Jets

Ryan AlfieriCorrespondent IIIMay 10, 2014

Northwest Missouri State cornerback Brandon Dixon during an NCAA college football game against Missouri Western, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in St. Joseph, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley)
Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

Keeping an emphasis on defense, the Jets continue to bolster their secondary with the selection of Mississippi State product Brandon Dixon.

Dixon is the epitome of a "project" player. Coming from a smaller program at Northwest Missouri, Dixon has the measureables of an NFL cornerback at 5'11", 198 pounds. His size will allow him to play both on the inside and outside at the next level. 

What stands out more than anything is Dixon's speed—his 4.41 40-yard dash will allow him to run with just about anyone on the field, though he did not always play that fast on the field. He has extremely quick feet, is able to mirror a receiver's movements and explodes off his plant-and-drive. 

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

For as many physical tools as he has, Dixon has a lot of holes in his game that he will need to fix before he can walk onto a starting NFL defense. He is unrefined in his footwork and takes a long time to process information. 

More than anything else, it will take Dixon a long time to learn the intricacies of how to recognize routes and maintain eye discipline, two skills he did not need to hone playing at Northwest Missouri.

His speed allowed him to get away with slower play-recognition, but in the NFL he will not be afforded those precious extra seconds. Picking up an NFL defense will be a long and difficult process for him, and the Jets must be patient with him as makes the transition from a small school.

Dixon is also not a reliable tackler, which will make it difficult for him to play anything but outside cornerback in the NFL. However, it is not his toughness or attention to detail that is his issue when tackling—he is simply not refined enough in his technique to wrap up ball-carriers consistently. 

Here is what Nolan Nawrocki of had to say about Dixon:

Big, athletic, Division II standout and JUCO product whose size, length and physicality will appeal to teams in search of a developmental press corner. Could also be viewed as a potential safety conversion, but does not exhibit requisite instincts and dependability as a tackler.

For at least his first season (and likely longer), Dixon will have to make his bones on special teams, where his speed and size will allow him to be extremely effective as a gunner. He could also provide depth as a fourth or fifth cornerback, filling in for Ellis Lankster if needed.

With this selection, John Idzik is following the Seattle Seahawks' philosophy of taking "project" players with good character deep in the draft that have potential to develop into starters. Other teams may overlook Dixon because he is not "pro ready" and comes from a small program, but the Jets are taking a swing for the fences on a player that will either develop into a starter or barely make the team as a rookie.