But rather than keeping the details of those concerns a secret, he shed light on them Wednesday in a pre-draft diary entry.
"My sophomore year when I got there, I failed one drug test for Adderall, and I got a prescription for it a couple months later. I never failed another drug test, never got in any trouble, never suspended," Dawson wrote in a diary filed to USA Today. "I was tardy a lot. I'd probably be a couple minutes late to that meeting or a weight-room session. But everybody loved me. I got along with everybody -- all the coaches, all the offensive coaches."
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock has ranked Dawson as the No. 1 linebacker in the draft. He made 136 tackles, 20 for losses, with six sacks for the Horned Frogs last season. At 6-2, 230 pounds, he is a potential first-round pick -- particularly if character concerns are alleviated in Indianapolis next week.
Dawson also indicated that he watched more film to prepare for games than he is given credit for. A player's willingness to put in extra preparation time falls under what scouts refer to as "football character."
"I'd usually be the last one to leave the facility. I'd be there until midnight. The coaches would leave at like 10. I'd just be in a little room, and they didn't even know I was there. They're talking now like I never watched film," Dawson wrote. "How could I not watch film and be that productive? That doesn't make sense. I stayed, probably watched two hours a night, so that's about 10 hours extra a week. I put in that work, did what I needed to do, and it all paid off."
Dawson's NFL.com scouting report highlights several of the issues Dawson addressed, including how well he was liked within the TCU program and his habits where film study is concerned.
"He's an early round player without any question," an AFC West regional scout said. "But you don't have to dig around very deep or very long to realize that his personal character is going to be a major issue for some teams. My grade will be two rounds later than just the talent grade. It has to be factored in."