The Oakland Raiders made their final pick of the 2014 NFL Draft choosing Western Kentucky safety Jonathan Dowling. Oakland used six of their eight selections on the defensive side of the ball to give head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver more firepower to work with for the upcoming season. Dowling fills a need in the secondary for the Raiders.
The 6-3, 190 pound Dowling has nice size for a safety and produced nice numbers in his final season at Western Kentucky. Dowling amassed 67 tackles, three interceptions, and forced six fumbles. During his junior season, Dowling recorded 68 tackles, six interceptions, and two forced fumbles. His production is off the charts, but he has some character red flags.
Dowling started his college career at Florida, but was kicked off the team for skipping class and not complying with the coaching staff. That is when he went to Western Kentucky and had a productive two seasons. Two seventh round picks of Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie were kicked off their teams in college. The pick before Dowling, defensive linemen Shelby Harris missed a season after being kicked off his Illinois State team. Both will have to prove those issues are behind them to get a chance with the Raiders.
At the 2014 NFL Combine, Dowling ran one of the best forty times for a safety at 4.52 seconds. He was a top performer in the 60 yard shuttle with a time of 11.56 seconds. He will need to improve his strength with only eight reps of 225 pounds.
Despite the off-field issues, Dowling has some talent and is worth a shot in the last round. He covers ground as a free safety and has some serious playmaking ability. In two seasons, he forced eight fumbles and intercepted nine passes. It will be interesting to monitor his progress.
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