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Kiper: Former Herd, SC star Dobson could go in 3rd round of NFL draft

NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. doesn't think former Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson will have to wait too long to learn his new professional home.

Kiper, an analyst for ESPN since 1984 and perhaps the most well-known expert on the NFL Draft, said during a conference call this week that Dobson, an all­Conference USA second team pick in 2012, likely will have to wait through the first round on Thursday, April 25. But he should hear his phone ring sometime the next day.

"I think in the third round, the middle to late third round, is when I'd start to consider Aaron Dobson," Kiper said.

Kiper sees the Indianapolis Colts taking Dobson to bolster the receiving corps for secondyear quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts currently have the 24th pick of the third round, the 86th selection overall. And considering Luck threw for 4,374 yards as a rookie, Dobson should have plenty of chances to contribute if he does become a Colt.

Dobson, a South Charleston High School graduate, finished his Marshall career tied with Troy Brown for fourth on the all-time list with 24 touchdown catches and by himself in ninth place with 2,398 career receiving yards. Despite missing the majority of the Thundering Herd's game against Memphis and all of its games against the UAB and Houston, he finished his senior year with 57 catches for 679 yards and three touchdowns.

He was the Herd's deep threat in his collegiate career and Kiper said Dobson has the frame to continue that in the NFL.

"You like the size and his physical ability," Kiper said. "At 6-3 and 210-to-215 pounds, he can certainly be a vertical threat down the field."

Dobson impressed many scouts during practices for January's Senior Bowl, but missed a prime opportunity to reinforce that after a hamstring injury kept him from participating in on-field activities at February's NFL Combine. He came back at Marshall's pro day in March and ran 40-yard dashes of 4.42 and 4.44 seconds indoors.

Still, Kiper hasn't seen the explosiveness out of Dobson that would move him out of the third round and into consideration in the first or early second round.

"I don't think he's as explosive as some of the others," Kiper said. "That burst out of his break, you don't see like you do with some of the other receivers."

Dobson currently sits outside Kiper's list of the 2013 draft's top five receivers. Scouts, Inc. rated him its ninth-best receiver, while has Dobson rated its 10th-best receiver and No. 71 overall prospect.

If drafted, Dobson will be the 38th NFL draft pick in Marshall history. It would be the third straight year a Herd player was drafted, with tight end Lee Smith taken by New England in 2011's fifth round and defensive end Vinny Curry taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012's second round.

Even as scouts and experts comb through Dobson's plusses and minuses, they don't forget to mention his ability to make the spectacular catch. His one-handed grab against East Carolina in 2011 went viral on the Internet and was considered one of the best college football plays of the year. And even though his touchdowns were down as a senior, he still showed he could stretch out to make the difficult grabs.

Kiper said the right team could hone his natural talent, polish him and help him become a complete wideout.

"He needs to be coached up a bit, as a wide receiver coach looking at him and developing him," he said. "He has the raw talent."


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