Photo of Jo-Lonn Dunbar
Grade
?
  • 6'1" Height
  • 228LBS. Weight

Overview

The emotional leader of the Eagles' defense, Jolonn Dunbar has an exceptional work ethic that rubs off on teammates.

He compensates for a lack of ideal size with keen field vision and awareness, as he always seems to be in position to make the big play. That was evident in the 2006 Maryland contest, where he tied an NCAA record by recovering two fumbles that he returned for touchdowns on the Terps' first two drives of the game.

Excellence on the football field is nothing new for Dunbar, who was a four-year standout at Thomas J. Corcoran High School. He earned All-State Class AA first-team honors as a senior running back and second-team All-Stater as a junior, when he also competed as a linebacker. He added All-American accolades from Super Prep and was an All-East choice by Tom Lemming's Prep Football Report.

The 2002 Central New York Co-Player of the Year rushed for 2,182 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior and finished his career with 5,136 rushing yards and 55 scores, both school records. On defense, he recorded 83 tackles, two sacks and four forced fumbles as a senior, leading the team to a 9-2 record and the Section III Class AA title.

With his mother, Michelle Johnson, an employee in the Syracuse football office, it was expected that Dunbar would enroll at the university. But, the coaching staff told him that he could not play halfback and wished to recruit him as a linebacker. He declined a scholarship offer and enrolled at Boston College, spending the 2003 season on the scout team. Midway through the season, he abandoned his dream to play offense and asked the coaching staff for a switch to defense.

The following season, Dunbar appeared in 10 games as a reserve linebacker, recording 37 tackles (24 solo) with 2 1/2 stops for losses, a forced fumble and two pass deflections in 2004. He started vs. Maryland and Boise State for an injured Brian Toal in 2005, playing in 12 games at middle linebacker. He ranked seventh on the squad with 50 tackles (37 solo), an assisted sack and five stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused a fumble and recovered another that he advanced 94 yards for a touchdown. He also batted away three passes and returned an onside kickoff one yard.

In 2006, Dunbar was the Meineke Bowl Most Valuable Player and led the team with 92 tackles (50 solo) while starting 11 games at middle linebacker. He sat out the Buffalo game with a right shoulder separation and the Miami game with a right high ankle sprain. He collected two sacks with 7 1/2 stops for losses and a forced fumble. He also recovered three fumbles, returning two for touchdowns. He deflected one pass and intercepted another.

The senior team captain led a BC defense that did not yield more than 69 yards rushing in any of the first seven games in 2007, but a right high ankle sprain vs. Florida would force Dunbar to sit out the Maryland clash and when he returned, he came off the bench during the team's final three regular-season contests. The defense struggled without their emotional leader, allowing 843 yards in the two games he was on the sidelines and saw their national title hopes dashed, as the Eagles lost three of their last five games.

Still, Dunbar ranked third on the squad with 83 tackles (45 solo). He was credited with 12 quarterback pressures and 6 1/2 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He deflected five passes and for the third consecutive year, he scored a defensive touchdown, returning an interception 14 yards for a score.

In 45 games at Boston College, Dunbar started 22 contests. He registered 262 tackles (156 solo) with 2 1/2 sacks for minus-12 yards and 21 1/2 stops for losses of 58 yards. He caused three fumbles and deflected seven passes. He gained 45 yards on a pair of interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. He also scored three times on four fumble recoveries, totaling 151 yards and also recovered an onside kickoff for a one-yard gain.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has a compact, but thick frame with thick and muscular thighs and calves, a V-shaped torso, tight abdomen and waist and good muscle definition in the chest and arms...Plays with outstanding field vision and instincts, as he is always in the right position to make the play...Closes on the ball in a hurry and is alert to blocking schemes while doing a good job of not biting on misdirection or pump fakes...Stays low in his pads and extends his arms well to wrap and secure the ballcarrier...His low center of gravity allows him to get under blocks and push the lead blocker back into the rush lanes...Quiet leader-by-example type, but has good command in the huddle...Hard worker in the training room who has made a good transition from tailback to linebacker, putting in extra hours after practice working on technique and compiling lots of time in the film room studying game tape...Has a better straight-line burst than when moving laterally, but knows how to mirror the tight ends and backs covering the pass in the short area...Has an instinctive feel for the ball in flight, taking short pitter-patter steps in his retreat when dropping back in zone coverage...Shows a good feel for blocking schemes, he attacks the line of scrimmage with shoulders squared and plants his feet to prevent from getting washed out by bigger blockers at the point of attack...Very good at lowering his pads and driving hard with his legs to split double teams and stack and control vs. inside running plays...Gives above average effort in his chase and extends his arms properly to drag down the outside runner...Has a good flow to the ball inside the box and delivers a strong hand jolt to shock a lethargic blocker...Hits with a thud, doing a good job of colliding with and bringing down ballcarriers with his initial hit...With his low center of gravity, he is capable of slipping through the inside trash to take down the ballcarrier in the backfield...Has good eyes in pass coverage, showing good ball anticipation mirroring tight ends underneath...Attacks the outside leg of the ballcarrier consistently to prevent forward progress...Shows decent hip snap and plant-and-drive agility coming out of his breaks...Demonstrates natural hands and good timing in his leaps making plays on the thrown ball at its high point...Efficient blitzing, is very slippery avoiding blocks in pursuit and has more of a straight-line burst rather than fluid change-of-direction agility in backside pursuit, but is relentless chasing QBs...Type of athlete that plays until the whistle, competing hard to make the plays in front of him...Has some Ray Lewis in him, as he enjoys playing the "enforcer" role with his impact tackles...Does a nice job of staying with tight ends, shadowing his man tightly as the route extends...Shows good knee-bend and hand usage in attempts to reroute the receiver and has enough hip flexibility for transitioning from the draw read...Plays with a relentless attitude and thinks that each tackle will be his last...Active with his hands when engaging the bigger blockers and has good pass rush and counter moves to escape and pressure the pocket. Negatives: Has good closing speed, but lacks the lateral range or blazing speed to play on the outside (best making plays inside the tackles, not along the perimeter)...Even though he has adequate timed speed, he does a good job of coming up to the line and pressing tight ends...Needs to improve his balance when attempting to change direction (gets narrow with his feet)...Uses his hands effectively to play off blocks, but can get gobbled up by bigger blockers working his way through trash because of a lack of ideal size (best when the defensive tackles clear a gap for him to operate)...Does not have the second gear to stay with receivers on deep routes, preventing a possible move to the secondary or a cover-2 outside linebacker at the next level...An every-down player, but the BC system didn't utilize him in man coverage much. Compares To: LOFA TATUPU-Seattle...Like Tatupu, Dunbar compensates for a lack of ideal size or lateral range with outstanding field vision and instincts. He has a keen feel for the ball in play and is relentless in his pursuit. He keeps his pad level low and has the leg drive to split double teams and push a blocker back into the rush lanes. He has the natural hands to make the interception or deflect the ball and can reroute tight ends and backs in the short-area passing game. Like Tatupu and the Jets' Jonathan Vilma, he is a classic 4-3 middle linebacker who will need big defensive tackles in front of him to take out the trash, but give him just the slightest of creases to make the play and he will be quick to fill the hole at the line of scrimmage.
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Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
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