Panthers Late Round Gems: Josh Dobbs

A late round projection, quarterback Josh Dobbs could be a youthful backup to Cam Newton while learning how to compete at the NFL level…

By the seventh round, gems in the NFL Draft are few and far between, but it doesn’t mean they still aren’t out there. In the case of Josh Dobbs, quarterback from Tennessee, proper development and time to learn may result in a late round pick turning into a potential role player of the future.

Dobbs possesses a skill set that is similar to that of Panthers’ starter Cam Newton. While he may not have the physicality of Newton, Dobbs’ lanky 6-foot, 3-inch and 210 pound frame ran for nearly 2,000 yards on the ground in his four seasons at Tennessee; two as a full time starter. In 2016, Dobbs ran for 831 yards, the 11th highest total among FBS quarterbacks.

In his senior season, Dobbs led Tennessee to a 9-4 record with a win over Nebraska in the Music City Bowl. Dobbs’ passer rating led the SEC (150.6), with 27 touchdowns through the air and an additional 12 TD’s on the ground. Dobbs’ last season in college play really sparked the conversation of his NFL readiness. He has an ability to extend plays with his legs while throwing accurate strikes at medium distance.

Another intangible that Dobbs possesses is intelligence, one of the most sought after traits in a quarterback. In November of 2016, Dobbs was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership honor society with members such as Peyton Manning and former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit. Dobbs was near a 4.0 GPA and an aerospace engineering major who recited the first 74 digits of Pi for Pi Day.

Even further, Dobbs is well respected and lauded by his former community and coaching staff. Dobbs lives up to the Volunteers namesake, by volunteering constantly with kids in the Knoxville community. After Dobbs’ final performance, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones gave his moral support for his man under center.

“The way Josh Dobbs handles his business, day in and day out, from academics to in the community, the giving of his time, to his leadership in our football program, to everything, he’s just a model of consistency.”

Jerry Richardson and the Carolina Panthers ownership have a history of weeding out troublemakers. Richardson made the sole decision to release Greg Hardy in 2015, stating, “We do the right things.” With Dobbs, not only would that be the least of concerns but Dobbs could become another leader of philanthropy in the Charlotte community.

On the downside, Dobbs has issues that are similar to Newton. In his senior season, Dobbs’ completion percentage was only 63 percent, a number that would surely go down against NFL level competition. His 12 interceptions along with four fumbles in 13 games is also an area of concern. An additional area of concern is his ability to throw the deep ball, but some of those worries were laid to rest this year with one of the best plays from the 2016 college football season.

CBS Sports currently has Dobbs ranked as the 10th best quarterback in this year’s draft with a round seven projection. It is known that Dobbs would be a project that would require a few years to develop on the field. Off the field, this is a mature young man who already has a proper attitude and above average statistics against SEC opposition.

Both backups to Newton (Derek Anderson and Joe Webb) are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2017 season and both quarterbacks are in their early to mid-30’s (Anderson, 33 and Webb, 30).

Dobbs represents a youthful backup presence that would learn the ropes in the Carolina organization with the hopes of getting under center one day. At the very least, Dobbs would be a camp contender for a roster spot or placed on the practice squad, if cleared, with the opportunity to jump to the active roster should an injury arise.

Dobbs is an extremely low risk draft selection that could add locker room leadership among young players and be a role model in the community.