He didn't put up the eye-popping numbers like several of the other top flight receiver prospects. He also didn't play on a big stage week in and week out in college. But blessed with an opportunity to match up with the best at the Senior Bowl, Marshall receiver Aaron Dobson is ready to prove himself worthy of early consideration in the 2013 NFL draft.
"I think I've done pretty well," said Dobson in reference to his practice performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile this week. "I think everybody is seeing what kind of receiver I am. I'm showcasing myself in front of a lot of talent out there. There's a lot of talent. I'm just trying to let everybody know that I deserve to be here and I can play."
Dobson chose to stay close to home playing his college ball at Marshall spurning offers from West Virginia and Wake Forest among others. Without a top flight quarterback to get him the ball on a consistent basis, the 6'2 ½" 203-pound receiver had to fight for a lot of the passes thrown his way.
It might be why Dobson excelled at making the difficult catches look easy. One of his best came against East Carolina in the 2011 season when he snared a pass backhanded with just one hand in tight coverage for a 13-yard touchdown. Dobson finished that game with four receptions for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Thundering Herd's 34-27 victory.
A former first team All-State basketball player in high school, parallels were quickly drawn between Dobson and another former Marshall wideout, who was also a West Virginia native that made a successful jump to the NFL.
"Randy Moss, he's a great player and did some great things in the league so I mean me coming from Marshall everybody is saying I'm following in his footsteps," said Dobson. "Being from the same area I definitely watched him. He had crazy athletic ability. He's a great receiver. I've been compared to him a couple of times, so that's definitely exciting, but me going to the league I'm just trying to make my own name and just start my own legacy."
Dobson seems unaffected by the comparisons. He's more focused on sharpening his game for the next level knowing he doesn't possess the elite speed that Moss had coming out of college. Creating more consistent separation at the top of his routes is one of the more important priorities on his to-do list, but he knows the best way to garner some attention come late February.
"I'm looking to run in the low 4.4s," said Dobson. "I'm trying to run fast, low 4.4s, high 4.3s. I'm trying to turn some heads."
ESPN NFL draft analyst believes Dobson's stock is poised to rise.
"He's a kid that could be a lot like Brian Quick was last year from Appalachian State," said Kiper. "Dobson is going to have a big Senior Bowl. He has size and didn't have a quarterback that could get him the ball on a consistent basis. He's very athletic. When he's had the opportunity to go up and make a play he's made it. He could be in the late first round discussion or certainly in the early to mid-second round discussion as a guy that nobody is talking about that could emerge."
Considered a savvy route runner, Dobson doesn't always go the conventional route in making plays, but shows an ability to consistently set up defensive backs and beat them. Far from a one trick pony, he has shown an ability to work underneath, outside and deep downfield.
And when he's in the red zone, boxing a defender out for a jump ball is rarely a problem. Dobson had 24 career touchdowns in 42 games.
"I think I have some good size and I can run a little bit so I definitely can call myself a deep threat," said Dobson. "But I consider myself a complete receiver."
Dobson knows the Moss comparisons will only continue as the draft draws closer. He's unlikely to take the league by storm the way Moss did, but he's determined to make an early impact for whatever teams picks him in late April.
"People that come from Marshall and go to the NFL definitely produce on their team," he said. "I'm just trying to be another one from Marshall that makes it."