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Patriots draft Alabama LB Xzavier Dickson with the 253rd overall pick

The New England Patriots have drafted former Alabama LB Xzavier Dickson in the seventh round (253rd overall).

2014:Played in all 14 games, with nine starts. Led team with 12.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. 2013: Played in 12 games. Missed the Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma due to violation of team rules. Reportedly suspended for a verbal altercation with an Alabama staff member. 2012:Played in 13 games with six starts.


40-yard dash: 4.83 and 4.77 seconds


STRENGTHS:Five straight games with at least 0.5 sacks in conference play and finished the 2014 season with nine sacks. Gets adequate jump off the snap and into his pass rush with low pad level. Will stay low to ground and come under and around the edge toward quarterback if he gets the jump on an offensive tackle. Uses well-timed shoulder turn and hand swipe to win the edge against waist-benders. Has the leverage and strength to get under pads and bull rush tackles. Consistent contributor for winning program and solid Alabama defense.

WEAKNESSES: Smooth body, lacking the muscularity and definition usually found at the position. Doesn't dominate tight ends. Fails to set and hold the edge as regularly as desired. Content to lay on blocks rather than consistently disengaging and constricting the running lanes. Marginal athleticism with signs of stiffness in his lower body. Seems to be lacking competitive fire at times and isn't prone to aggressive pursuit of a play from the back side. Rarely used in coverage and primarily used as rush end.

DRAFT PROJECTION: Round 7 or priority free agent

BOTTOM LINE: Used as a 3-4 outside 'backer at times and as a defensive end when Alabama goes to its even front, Dickson has adequate skills as a pass rusher, but is average to below average against the run. Dickson doesn't feature the explosive, athletic traits to be a pass-rushing specialist and might not have enough strength at the point of attack to be an every-down defensive end.

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