Kenneth Dixon was a multisport athlete in college, and set an Arkansas high school record of 3,153 yards and 39 TDs in his senior year. His performance in high school led to him being named a three star recruit by Rivals.com in 2011. He chose Louisiana Tech over SEC schools Arkansas, LSU, and Ole Miss. During his four years at Louisiana Tech, Dixon played consistently well, starting in his freshman year. He set a freshman record with 28 total TDs. He continued to be a TD machine, and ended his college career as the NCAA record holder with 87 career TDs, but Keenan Reynolds surpassed him by one TD later in the year. Dixon made the All-Conference USA team all three years La. Tech was in the conference. He is entering the draft after his senior season as one of the top runners.
|January 21, 1994
|Bench (225 lbs.)
|20 Yard Shuttle
|3 Cone Drill
|40 Yard Dash (10 yd. split)
|60 Yard Shuttle
|Louisiana Tech University (2012-2015)
|198 att, 1,073 yards, 5.4 ypc, 19 TDs
|33 rec, 464 yards, 14.1 ypc, 7 TDs
|253 att, 1,299 yards, 5.1 ypc, 22 TDs
|30 rec, 385 yards, 12.8 ypc, 6 TDs
|151 att, 917 yards, 6.1 ypc, 4 TDs
|14 rec, 85 yards, 6.1 ypc, 1 TDs
|200 att, 1,194 yards, 6.0 ypc, 27 TDs
|10 rec, 35 yards, 3.5 ypc, 1 TDs
- Often dealt with poor offensive line play, made first defender in backfield miss more often than not
- Excellent short area quickness, shows a variety of moves to make defenders miss one-on-one
- Great jump cut
- Effective use of stiff arm
- Understands how to effectively use angles to deflect defenders off of him and fall forward
- Powers through arm tackles
- Consistently shows extra effort in all scenarios
- Displays consistently good pad level
- Great burst accompanied with stride variance to keep defenders off guard
- Solid second level speed
- Strong vision to consistently make good decisions
- Doesn’t unnecessarily bounce plays outside
- Strong at identifying blitzers and shows good form as a standup blocker
- Hit-or-miss as a cut blocker, needs significant work on form here
- Strong work as a receiver out of the backfield due to his skill in space
- Was occasionally asked to line up out wide, not asked to do much as a route runner but his extra effort and willingness to work with the QB was very useful on plays
This article has multiple pages, examining different traits that Dixon displays, and discussing whether or not those traits bode well for his transition to the NFL game. The first three pages deal with his running traits, while the fourth page covers his work in the passing game and the last includes projections for Dixon in the NFL.
In order to watch Dixon, I went to Draft Breakdown, which has six of his college games.
While from a smaller school, Kenneth Dixon’s work in the run game instantly demands attention. When turning on the tape against Louisiana Tech’s competition, Dixon jumps off of the screen. Even against better schools, Dixon shows his worth when his teammates failed around him.
Dixon’s best attribute is his short area quickness, where he can string multiple moves together and dart through defenses. However, he also displays a pretty well-rounded skill set when running the football. He is capable of running with power, consistently falling forward, and also displays positive vision traits with great burst and decent long speed.
Dealing with backfield penetration
Louisiana Tech’s offensive line was not good during Dixon’s time there, particularly their center. This was particularly apparent against the top competition they faced from the tape of Dixon that’s available: a 2014 game against Oklahoma. Dixon often had to deal was a defender in his face almost as soon as he got the ball.
While that might not be an ideal situation for Dixon’s stat line, seeing how RBs perform in those situations is actually critically important for scouting them. Some prospects running behind top offensive lines might not have to deal with that adversity in college, but it’s very likely going to happen to them once they get to the NFL.
Dixon consistently acquitted himself well when put in bad situations by his offensive line. He was quick to recognize backfield penetration and often made moves to avoid it. He got caught in the backfield a number of times, but consistently showed the ability to turn what should have been a loss into a short gain or at least get back to the original line of scrimmage, as can be seen in the plays below:
Louisiana Tech’s center in particular seemed to struggle to block defenders, and that makes it very hard for the RB to run to the interior. On the first play, the NT defeats the center, but Dixon is able to sidestep him in the backfield. He then gets stonewalled by two more defenders, and can’t gain yardage. This was typical of a given play against Oklahoma, but it’s not Dixon’s fault that he can’t get anything here.
The second play shows a great example of what was a fantastic run from Dixon that shows up as a bad one in the box score. Despite really poor blocking, Dixon stiff arms three defenders to the ground and gains about a yard while doing a great job of keeping the play alive.
Dixon showed creativity and intelligence as a runner when dealing with the backfield penetration. The third play is a great example of that. When he sees his initial gap is blocked, tries to bounce it in one direction, spots a defender in the way there as well, and finally spins back around and decides to just go forward for positive yardage. Dixon is a better athlete than almost everyone else he’s playing against, and some backs would look to make the risky move of kicking the run to the outside after the spin. That might work in college, but it also sets up the player for failure at the NFL level because the NFL has much better athletes. Dixon taking the short gain instead of risking the big loss shows that he understands how to make a sound decision on the fly when things don’t go as planned.
The fourth and final play shows that if Dixon has a one-on-one is space with a defensive lineman, he’s going to make the defender look silly.
Short area quickness
The last play in the previous section is a nice segue into Dixon’s trump card, which is his excellent short area quickness. Dixon shows great flexibility and agility, and can set himself up to make multiple moves in a row. This shows most readily in open space, but it’s also something he applies to great effect in the trenches:
The first play shows Dixon’s ability in space. On a swing pass, he makes the first defender miss with a jump cut, then makes a cut where he spins almost 180 degrees to make another defender fly by him before being taken down by a third defender. On the next play, he puts a nasty jump cut on a defender before showing nice power to finish off the run.
On the third play, he makes another jump cut to avoid the collapsing safety, then recovers and tries his hand at a spin move on the second defender. That doesn’t quite work, but it does allow Dixon to fall forward for extra yardage. The fourth play shows another great jump cut, but Dixon also shows that he can beat defenders with angles immediately after that, and once again falls forward with a spin, which was a common theme for him.
On the final play, Dixon shows the ability to bait the defender in and then just run by him. This works in a pretty confined area, as there are multiple defenders around on Louisiana Tech’s T formation sweep. Something Dixon appears to intuitively understand well is how to minimize the contact area the defender has to bring him down by turning perpendicular to the defender. This is something pass rushers need to do a lot, but it also applies to avoiding tackles because there’s less jersey for potential tacklers to latch on to.