2014 Fiesta Bowl Prospect Preview: Baylor vs. UCF

Baylor strong safety Ahmad Dixon is the top defensive prospect in this year’s Fiesta Bowl. (Photo: Matthew Emmons — USA Today Sports)

Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor, Sr. (6’, 205 lbs)

Dixon has been a starter on the back end of the Bears defense for the last three seasons, and he has accumulated 261 total tackles in that span.

An All-Big 12 selection this season, Dixon is a beast as a run support safety who can either play in the box or come up from his safety position and contribute. He is aggressive in his pursuit of the ball carrier and is an excellent, wrap-up form tackler.

Dixon is a big hitter in general, whether it’s making a tackle against the run or challenging a player who is going to catch the ball in the middle of the field. He is a competitive pass defender but he does not win as much in coverage. Dixon has below average change-of-direction skills and tight hips. To compensate, he is grabby down the field and struggles to run with receivers.

Dixon can flourish in a system that likes to bring their safeties into the box and play them near the line of scrimmage. With the increased spread offenses and the need to be able to stop the run out of four receiver sets, Dixon has a skill set needed in the NFL.

A mid-round prospect, Dixon is a physical player who projects to make an impact on special teams coverage units right away in his NFL career.

Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor, Sr. (5’10’’, 170 lbs)

Reese is one of the most explosive deep threats in all of college football. Reese has averaged 19.4 yards per catch on 137 receptions, with 24 touchdowns, over his last three seasons. He has 33 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns in just seven games this season.

Reese’s explosive downfield burst and acceleration allow him to get separation down the field and behind the secondary. He flies past defenders, leaving it up to the quarterback to get enough air under passes to allow Reese to make deep catches. Reese tracks the football well down the field.

Because defenses have to respect Reese as a vertical threat, they generally play off him in man coverage, which allows him to break off routes and make plays on comebacks routes with ease.

Reese could catch the ball more consistently clean. He also needs to show more effort and intensity as a blocker when plays are run away from his side of the field.

Reese is exactly the type of vertical threat and slot receiver that NFL teams want. He does not have great size, but he has speed that is not teachable.

UCF’s Storm Johnson has the attributes of an NFL tailback. (Photo: Jeff Griffith — USA Today Sports)

Storm Johnson, RB, Central Florida, Jr. (6’, 215 lbs)

Johnson, who transferred from Miami in 2011, has been productive in two seasons with the Knights, including 1,015 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns as a junior. With this being his fourth year out of high school, having sat out the 2012 season due to NCAA transfer rules, it would not be a surprise to see Johnson declare for the 2014 NFL Draft.

Johnson is a tough, physical runner who loves contact. In the open field, Johnson looks to challenge tacklers and is not the type of runner who is going to slip out of bounds without being forced. He has good burst to and through the holes, and has good speed in the open field to pick up chunks of yardage.

Johnson has below-average vision in finding holes and in the open field. He doesn’t have great reaction skills to tacklers, which results in some missed yardage. Johnson can also be indecisive when a play design does not work. That said, he is difficult to tackle and fights hard for every yard he gains.

Johnson has also contributed well out of the backfield as a receiver with 29 receptions this season. He is a viable option on swing passes and screens.

Johnson has the physicality, athleticism, size and strength that is ideal for playing running back in the NFL. If he declares, he has mid-round potential.

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Ahmad Dixon, Baylor, Blake Bortles, Bowl Games, Bowl Previews, Cyril Richardson, Fiesta Bowl, Game Previews, Lache Seastrunk, Prospect Previews, Storm Johnson, Tevin Reese, UCF

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