KNOXVILLE — The NFL Draft stock of Joshua Dobbs could hinge on one question: How good was his supporting cast at Tennessee?
ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. on Wednesday compared the situation surrounding Dobbs – one that has included surging draft stock since the Senior Bowl in January – to that of Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer.
“I think when you go back and look at Tennessee, again, we talked about DeShone Kizer and some of the throws that go on, is it the quarterback’s fault or the receiver’s fault?” Kiper asked.
“That’s an argument you can make in some cases with Dobbs and Tennessee.”
Dobbs threw for 7,138 yards during his four-year career at Tennessee, throwing 53 touchdowns and 29 interceptions while completing 61.5 percent of his 999 career pass attempts.
His pro potential has been on the rise since draft prep began in January.
The 6-foot-3, 216-pound quarterback completed 12 of 15 passes for 104 yards and an interception in the Senior Bowl.
He received a grade of 5.23 at the NFL Combine last month, then followed with an impressive Pro Day in Knoxville last week.
“You think about the Senior Bowl week, how it helped him,” Kiper said. “You think about interviews, that’s going to help him.
“He’s incredibly intelligent, great character, classy quarterback, off-the-field leadership, all that. I respect everything he has from an intangible standpoint.
“Physically, he has the physical traits you would want as well.”
Dobbs was clocked at 4.64 seconds in the 40 at the Combine, with a 33-inch vertical and a 122-inch broad jump. He had a time of 4.31 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.75 seconds in the three-cone drill.
When it comes down to an NFL franchise calling Dobbs’ name on draft night, though, it comes back to the players around him at Tennessee, and whether or not it was enough to highlight his NFL skill set.
“If you can feel like a better supporting cast would have helped him maybe play a little better on the surface at Tennessee,” Kiper said, “you could think about Josh Dobbs in the second or third round.”
With three weeks left before the NFL Draft begins in Philadelphia on April 27, Kiper said he’s still debating between Dobbs and Miami’s Brad Kaaya as his sixth quarterback off the board.
In his latest mock draft, released by ESPN on Wednesday, Kiper has North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky as the No. 6 overall pick to the New York Jets, ahead of Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (No. 12, Cleveland Browns), Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes (No. 13, Arizona Cardinals), Kizer (No. 27, Kansas City Chiefs) and former Tennessee quarterback Nathan Peterman (No. 57, Houston Texans).
“He may end up being the sixth quarterback taken,” Kiper said of Dobbs. “If he is, with four (quarterbacks) in the first round possibly, and Peterman in the second, you could see Dobbs in the late second, early third round.”