The Story On David Paulson Part 1: College Stats

By Christopher DiMarino

The Pittsburgh Steelers addressed their need at tight end with David Paulson in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL draft. Many of you remember the big deal I made out of Coby Fleener, but even before that I did some in-depth analysis of the tight ends in the 2012 class. Paulson is definitely not Fleener, but he might be a better value considering the low price paid for him. First, I want to break down some of his collegiate stats.

Paulson was a red shirted senior at Oregon but only played the past 3 years. He was slowly incorporated into the Duck offense in 2009 where the team had only two loses leading to a Rose Bowl berth. They eventually lost that game in a heart breaker to Ohio State 26-17. Everyone remembers in 2010 when they went undefeated, finished ranked #2 in the country and lost to Auburn by a last second field goal. In 2011, they mirrored 2009 with a 2 loss record and Rose Bowl berth. They however won their only bowl game during the Paulson era, a 45-38 barn-burner against 10th ranked Wisconsin.

In those 3 years he played, Paulson accumulated over 1000 yards and hauled in 10 touchdowns. After a lukewarm TD-less year in 2009, he put 2 good consecutive seasons together each with 400 yards and 4 then 6 TDs. He was very consistent over his career and averaged about 3 receptions a game. The biggest game of his career was against Oregon State where he had his only career game over 100 yards. He also hauled in 8 receptions while he never topped more than 4 in any other collegiate game.

I like looking into deep stats for patterns. For instance, he had about 2/3rds of his yards in the 1st half. In fact, in 2011 he had almost half his stats in the 2nd quarter. That could be attributed to playing for Oregon which was a successful running school while he attended. LaMichael James led their offense in rushing which was ranked 5th in the country. Typically the Duck offense would start with a bit of a run heavier edge in the first quarter and then use the play action to attack the opposition in the second quarter. He was a big piece of that puzzle and that may be the key to his success as a Steeler. The other key is blocking. While he wasn\’t exactly an in-line tight end, he was called upon on several instances to block down on linebackers to spring the run game.

He was dominant in games that were blow outs and also had yard highs against conference teams. That can be misleading unless you consider that their conference really isn\’t too competitive. The telltale stat I liked was how most of his yards and touchdowns came when his team was even or within a touchdown or less. That means that he wasn\’t getting garbage yards and was a key player his coach looked to when it mattered.

He had only two receptions with goal to go, but both were touchdowns. He had a majority of his catches on 1st and 2nd downs. That further solidifies his role as an auxiliary type of weapon. He wasn\’t a key part of their passing attack but rather a tool, that when used effectively, helped them move the chains and prolong drives in close games. Or, the team might have been nursing leads late in typical games which lead to less passes. Either way, he was an important part of an offense that helped Oregon constantly jump of the ranks over the past few years. The past however, is the past, and what fans want to know is what to expect from him. In part two I will look into what the Steelers might expect from him and what he will need to do to succeed or even make the 53 man roster.

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  • burghball

    I think you can time this guys 40 with a sun dial…. and Some Dlinemen could cover him – I do not see Paulson making it out of training camp.



  • Bleebo77

    I agree that it is hard for me to see Paulson making the team. His selection was the most uninspired of the Steelers whole draft, IMO. It seems like Paulson is average in everything and not special in anything. What you see is what you get – I think his ceiling is pretty low.

    I know they might need some TE depth, but I would have rather seen them take the kid from Beloit, Derek Carricker, as a developmental WR/TE. He’s 6’3″ and 240 pounds, about the same measureables as Paulson…. but Carricker has a much greater upside.

    I think round 7 is where you take those small school developmental guys, undervalued guys, or the guys who have fallen down the board for whatever reason… but I don’t see the value in taking big school players who have already topped out and don’t have much upside. I hope I’m wrong about Paulson!

  • Stewart John21

    I liked George Bryan NC State better; big guy (6’5″ 260) coming into his own as a pass catcher. Also as a flier Undrafted FA – Josh Chichester (6’7″ 235). I definitely liked Carrier, too. Bleebo77 said it perfectly, “The Paulson pick was uninspired”
    I also thought we could have grabbed a Safety at some point – Duke Ihenacho, Antonio Allen, Phillip Thomas, Aaron Henry…any one could have been had in the 7th or as UFA. Oh well, guess they know better…

  • Eric87

    Lets at least see the guy in training camp before everyone starts booting him outta town. I remember that alot of people didnt think Saunders had a shot at making the team until the last couple weeks of the preseason last year.

  • Kysteeler

    Pro day numbers:

    40 Yrd Dash: 4.62
    20 Yrd Dash: 2.69
    10 Yrd Dash: 1.68
    20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.25
    3-Cone Drill: 7.09

    Vertical Jump: 33
    Broad Jump: 09’05”

    He looks a lot more like a 4.6 or 4.7 on tape too

  • burghball

    “YOU CAN NOT BE SLOW IN GAMES AND BE A DUCK” Does it help if you waddle? Geez – I forget, even the Ducks Olinemen run sub 4.5 40’s.. roll or eyes… Just looking at the numbers, who we have in camp, D.Paulson will be an extremely long shot to make this team. Can he make it? sure.. but odds are against and yeah – I’ll wait to see what he looks like at the NFL level because “YOU OBVIOUSLY DID NOT SEE HIM PLAY” in the pac 12 is far from playing in the NFL. With MIller, Pope, D.Johnson,the WVU kid, another kid they like on the PS and Saunders the competition will be very tough for Paulson to make – so if he does, says a lot about the young man. Lastly – Lighten up – the sun dial comment was meant to be funny. When I see his combine 40 at 4.93 about the same as D.Poe and some other Dlinemen – makes you wonder…. The little I saw of him on tape – he aint going to make it. my opinion

  • Bleebo77

    I agree in wishing they had looked at safety in the 7th. I was surprised Aaron Henry and Antonio Allen dropped so far – seems like I saw them with mid-round grades.

  • Raymundo

    Love in depth analysis of the rookies….good work!

  • 415Mitch

    I’ll add something as a long time Duck observer. Let me say that I am not saying he will or will not make the team – I have no idea and nothing I say will matter in that. This is a guy who’s stats don’t tell the story. I’ll tell you what is also going on with this guy:


    1) I’ve never seen him drop a pass. He probably has, but I haven’t seen it. You throw it he catches it.

    2) He finishes every play.

    3) He blocks downfield (Oregon receivers usual best talent unfortunately – they are all taught that as a fundamental especialy with the running game).

    4) He finds space.

    5) He’s smart as hell (almost has his MBA) and a a good person. These items who knows if they matter, but thought I would add them in.

    6) He was the team co-mvp with D’Anthony Thomas even with his Senior numbers. Teammates say he’s one of the most committed teammates ever.

    Cons that have hurt:

    1) Face it, he’s just not that fast.

    2) He’s been under the radar forever as a TE, even as a prep standout. At Oregon we didn’t really see him coming. He’s a publicly quiet and down to earth guy. Fleener is great but I’d rather throw it to Paulson with the game on the line.

    3) DT never threw to him last year – you’ll see Paulson wide open and see DT go to DAT or someone else. It’s not an issue between the two but DT was not accurate and couldn’t adjust off of his main route and go to the open guy. Look at the Barner TD in the Rose Bowl and you’ll see Paulson wide open, and after Barner gets the pass who’s blocking downfield? Paulson. There’s a reason DT entered the draft, he wasn’t going to beat out the other QB’s this year. This isn’t a con on Paulson but explains a lot of the stats.

    3) Because of a lack of WR talent, other teams saw Paulson as the biggest WR threat coming into 2011 and focused on him. They were right btw.

    4) He just doesn’t look like a FB player.

    That’s it. I’m not saying he’s the second coming, but just saying don’t under-estimate this guy. I did read somewhere that the Steelers may turn him into a fullback, which I think would be a crime given his hands.

    Also I thought you had a good overall draft given your position.

  • Jake

    your very not smart. look up his highlights on youtube. he is an extremly special pass catcher, a good but not great blocker, and his 40 time at pro day was a 4.58. He is extremly smart as well. you have to be good to play for Oregon. do some research before you criticize….