By Alex Norman
During his four years at Tennessee, Josh Dobbs was seemingly known first and foremost as a smart kid that also played quarterback.
That was the narrative. There were seemingly endless stories in print, on-line and on your television about how Dobbs was an aerospace engineering major. He was named one of the 14 smartest college football players in the country by NFL.com. His favorite subjects were reportedly physics and math.
Leading up to his senior season, most expected there was a much stronger possibility of Dobbs joining NASA after graduation than suiting up for an NFL team.
Well, the space program is going to have to wait because this week Josh Dobbs will hear his name called at the NFL draft.
Dobbs opened up the eyeballs of a lot of scouts during his final year in Knoxville when he collected 3781 total yards of offense in the 2016 season, a number second only to Peyton Manning in program history. When asked at the NFL combine if he could handle learning an NFL playbook, Dobbs said, “My senior year I was taking astronautics, propulsion and an aerodynamics class… all on the same day… At the same time as football season when I was leading an SEC team. I think I can handle it.”
Former NFL head coach and Tennessee grad assistant Jon Gruden thinks that some big things are in store for Dobbs at the next level.
“I would love to get my hands on him. He, to me, is a great sleeper in this draft,” said Gruden in conference call with the media. “He played in an offense where there weren’t a lot of pure drop-backs. He was a running quarterback and he has over 400 attempts rushing. He ran for over 2,000 yards in the SEC. But if you watch the second half of the Florida game, watch the Nebraska game in the bowl game, you see passing ability. I think he stood out at the Senior Bowl as a guy who could make a quick transition. This kid is smart, he loves it and he’ll be a quick study. And his athleticism is going to be hard to keep off the field. This guy has the heart of a champion.”
Another ESPN analyst, Louis Riddick, appeared on the mind numbing Mike & Mike radio program. We listened so you didn’t have to. Riddick said, “His name is going to be called higher than people think… You’re going to see the best of Josh Dobbs when he gets to the NFL.”
One of the things that Dobbs has going for him is certainly maturity. Former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray was at one point projected to be a first round draft pick. But while he had a thunderbolt for a right arm, his mental game was weak. He dropped out of the entire draft and had to sign a free agent deal with Kansas City. Bray has yet to appear in an NFL game and currently is second on the Chiefs’ depth chart.
Dobbs understands that he isn’t going to be Joe Montana on day 1, but if called upon early could be this year’s Dak Prescott. The former Mississippi State quarterback subbed for an injured Tony Romo and led the Dallas Cowboys to a division title in 2016.
The Cowboys future is bright with Prescott. There’s another team out there that could find themselves in a similar situation, with a fragile starting quarterback, in need of a young signal caller that will be prepared to play if needed.
Josh Dobbs fits that description to a “T.”
So later this week, when former Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett and running back Alvin Kamara get selected in the first couple of rounds, pay close attention to the moment when Dobbs gets the call as well.
If nothing else, some NFL team is getting a smart kid that plays quarterback.