2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#11 Joshua Dobbs / QB / Tennessee: 6’3” 207lbs

The Good:

– Dynamic running ability and breakaway speed
– Great pocket elusiveness and awareness
– Solid fundamentals and throwing mechanics
– Good quick-game passing
– Above-average arm strength
– Toughness in the pocket; willing to stand tall and make throws with pressure in his face
– Keeps eyes downfield when scrambling
– Does a good job of working through progressions

The Bad:

– Rarely throws the ball downfield
– Questionable field vision: sometimes fails to see defenders playing the flats
– Often gets tunnel vision and forces the ball to covered receivers
– Never took snaps from under center
– Occasionally fumbles when running the ball
– Sometimes had troubling catching shotgun snaps


– Career Passing: 35 Career Starts (23 wins, 12 losses. 3-0 in bowls) 61.5% completion rate, 7,138 yards (fifth in Tennessee history), 53 TDs 29 INTs
– Career Rushing: 438 carries, 2,160 yards (4.9 avg.), 32 TDs.
– Set UT records for career rushing yards by a quarterback, rushing touchdowns by a QB, single-season rushing yards by a QB, and single-season rushing touchdowns by a QB.
– His 9,360 yards of total offense (7,138 passing, 2,160 rushing, 62 receiving) rank third in school history behind only Peyton Manning and Casey Clausen
– Joined Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Florida’s Tim Tebow as the only SEC quarterbacks to record 15 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons
– Is one of only four quarterbacks in SEC history to have 50 career passing touchdowns and 25 career rushing touchdowns. The others are Tebow, Prescott, and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

Film Breakdown:

– Joshua Dobbs is a solidly average quarterback. He has big-play running ability, great elusiveness in the pocket, and was very efficient in his quick-game; however, he was also fairly uninspiring in his overall passing game. He was not a consistent threat to throw vertically downfield and he demonstrated questionable decision-making by throwing several interceptable passes a game. As a result, I see him as likely having an ordinary NFL career as a game-managing starter or as a reliable back-up.

Dobbs’ dynamic athleticism is clearly his best attribute. Although he was a throw-first QB who would stay in the pocket as long as necessary; when protection broke down, he regularly kept the play alive with his feet and gained positive yardage. For example, in this first clip against South Carolina, Dobbs makes a decisive decision to tuck the ball and run when he feels the pocket collapsing. He converts a potentially negative play into a 50-yard touchdown:

Elusiveness and escapability are other positive features of Dobbs’ playing style. He relies on his natural instincts to help sense pressure (allowing him to keep his eyes downfield), as well as his sound fundamentals (helping him make accurate throws in chaotic situations). In this play against Florida, Dobbs’ feels the front-side rusher, reacts quickly with a fantastic spin, and then throws a touchdown pass while on the run:

Here against Nebraska, Dobbs again demonstrates great calmness and escapability in the face of heavy pressure. He sidesteps the inside rush, quickly resets while keeping his eyes downfield, then reverse-pivots on a secondary scramble. Additionally, notice his ball-security fundamentals as he keeps both hands on the ball throughout the entirety of the play:

On the negative side, Dobbs’ decision-making needs improvement. He would occasionally get too locked-in on a single receiver and force the ball into impossibly tight windows. For example, in this next clip against South Carolina, he appears to have decided pre-snap that he was going to throw to the corner route, and as a result, throws an interception. It’s tough to justify this pass to his receiver, who is surrounded by four defenders:

Lastly, Dobbs sometimes took unnecessary risks when trying to make a big play. Here against Appalachian State, on a 3rd and 3 play near the Red Zone, he unwisely floats an off-balanced pass to a covered receiver. Instead of making the smart and safe decision to throw the ball away, Dobbs commits a bad turnover and costs his team a field goal attempt:

– Overall, Joshua Dobbs could have a decent NFL career if he lands in the right system and has the right players around him. He has a way to go before he’s ready to become a starter on an NFL team; however, with good coaching and time to learn the intricacies of a professional offense, he certainly has the raw physical abilities to be a productive player on Sundays.

I see him as having a similar skill set and NFL-ceiling as Pittsburgh QB Nathan Peterman. I think that at this moment Peterman is the more refined prospect; however, Dobbs may have more long-term potential. Interestingly, Peterman began his career at Tennessee, but lost his starting position to Dobbs. Both players are tough, throw-first quarterbacks with great running ability and who had similar collegiate production (in 2016, both threw for 27 TDs and approximately 2,900 yards). Dobbs is slightly bigger, more athletic, and has a better arm; however, Peterman played in a pro-style offense and took better care of the football (2016: Dobbs had 12 INTs/10 FUM; Peterman 7 INTs/7 FUM).

Projection: Day 3

Games Watched: vs Appalachian State, at Vanderbilt, vs Nebraska, at South Carolina, at Florida (2015), at Alabama (2015)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan Anderson

About the Author

Sean McKaveney
Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.
  • Spencer Krick

    “Sometimes had troubling catching shotgun snaps”


    He seems like a solid option, if the Steelers are hell bent on drafting a QB.

  • Steelers12

    hopefully we pass on a QB unless it Evans in the 6th or 7th out of VA TECH

  • Spencer Krick

    Me too. Grab a UDFA that can fight for Otherberger’s roster spot or a spot on the PS.

  • Matt Manzo

    I love the athletic ability plus the coolness in the pocket! But everything else bums me out.

  • No thanks

  • LucasY59

    funny that Peterman and Dobbs have the common history and play style comparison, I think both could be QBs the Steelers are interested in (which kinda shows how bad the QB talent in this draft is) Peterman looks to be going pretty early in the Draft 2nd/3rd rd projections, and I would be pretty disappointed if the Steelers used that early of a draft pick on a QB this yr (IF Nathan is still available in the 4th there is a chance the Steelers take him then, they have had plenty of time to evaluate if he is worth the pick (since they share facilities) and if they think he is worth it then I am comfortable with their decision, but I dont really want to take a QB int the 4th much more than the 2nd/3rd, too early for too little talent)

    Dobbs seems like he should be available in the 5th comp/6th rd pick range and IF they need to use a draft pick on a QB this yr that is where I would want it to happen

    I like that Josh was in some close games this season and came up with some amazing wins (partially to luck, but he had the ball with the game on the line and his team won) I also like that he is an above avg athlete (again there arent many impressive pocket passers in this draft so might as well draft one of the better athletes at the position instead)

    having a rookie as the #2 QB is not a good idea for the Steelers regardless of who the rookie is, so they will need to re-sign Landry or bring in a FA, otherberger is another option, but I dont even like his chances to beat out a guy like Dobbs for the #3 spot

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  • Jason

    Couple the trouble catching shotgun snaps with the never taken a snap from under center and you have a circus every play.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    What film I watched he looks awful and do not want him.

  • Wayne’O

    I wonder what the scouting report was on Dak Prescott? As I recall he wasn’t exactly receiving 1st round grades. But damn did he have a helleva year. Even beat Ben on the road in Pittsburgh. Just saying, this thing isn’t always exact science. You never know when your going to catch lightning in a bottle.

  • Brenton deed

    Maybe they’re thinking: we need to make a decision on Mahomes if he happens to fall to us at 1:30. If it turns out that after more close ups they REALLY like him maybe they trade up if he falls within range. Otherwise draft a high ceiling low floor type like Dobbs in Day three and take a year thinking hard on what to do next year.
    Everyone’s saying next year’s QB crop is better.

    I wonder if they’d consider trading away 1.30 this year for a first round next year? With two first round picks maybe they could trade up next year to get an “elite” prospect? I’m assuming they’ll still make the playoff this year.

    It kind of sells out this year’s draft though… they’re probably going to run all these scenarios once their bid board is settled.

  • Danny Young

    Looks like Kordell Stewart all over again

  • Danny Young

    I think taking a high round QB is not a good move for Ben. I think we just need a stop gap that we can use for a couple years after he retires in 2018 after he gets his 4th SB ring

  • Brenton deed

    I’d settle for that – provided he gets 4 (or even) 3 rings!