Career Recap: Dye has spent the last three years as one of the most consistently good defenders in college football, having contributed significantly on the field for the Ducks since his freshman year. In his debut season, he totaled 91 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks and an interception. He followed that up in 2017 with 107 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, one forced fumble, four passes batted, and one interception. Last season was his best so far, when he totaled 115 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, two sacks, one interception and eight passes defended. Dye could have been an early-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he decided to return for his senior year.
2019 Season Outlook: Dye is going to see a challenging schedule as a senior, which starts in Week 1 against Auburn. The Tigers have a lot of NFL talent on their offensive line and typically field good running backs who challenge defenses. After Auburn, the Ducks have some cupcakes to pad their stats before seeing better Pac-12 competition.
Playing well against Stanford, Washington and USC will be important for Dye. Perhaps his best test of the season will come against Arizona State, where running back Eno Benjamin is one of the top backs in college football and an early-round NFL prospect. Benjamin will be a good test for Dye's tackling ability.
Skill-Set Summary: What makes Dye special for the NFL is his ability to defend on third down. Dye is an athletic linebacker who can run. He has the speed to match up on tight ends in man and can handle running backs out of the backfield. Linebackers with length, quickness and athleticism like Dye's can often play man coverage on tight ends and are tough commodities to find, so Dye will have serious appeal to NFL defensive coordinators.
On top of having some man-coverage skills, Dye shows the ability to function well in zone coverage, covering a lot of ground and getting depth in his drop. He has good vision and reads plays well to disrupt throwing lanes. That talent can be seen in the amount of passes broken up he has totaled over his career. Dye is very ball aware, slapping the ball out of receivers' hands and going for strips.
Along with his cover skills, Dye is a dangerous blitzer with the ability to affect the quarterback. He has a straight-line burst with serious closing speed to hunt the signal-caller. Dye probably won't be used as a pass-rusher often in the NFL, but he has blitzing ability and can contribute to the rush.
Dye is a solid run defender as well. He reads his keys well and fires to the ball-carrier to limit gains. There are times when Dye really violently jars ball-carriers. For the NFL, Dye could stand to tackle lower, as he has the tendency to go too high. That tendency could lead to some missed tackles in the pros due to bouncing off pro tailbacks. He also could stand to improve his ability to take on and shed blocks. All college linebackers need help with that becayse NFL offensive linemen are a different level of strength, size and quickness.
For the NFL, Dye could function as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He is an excellent fit for a 3-4 with his ability to drop into coverage and blitz the quarterback.
2020 NFL Draft Expectations: Entering his senior season, Dye has early-round potential for the 2020 NFL Draft.