One Year Wonder?
This year’s NFL Draft class has its share of electrifying defenders. One of the biggest question marks is former Clemson edge rusher, Kevin Dodd. While his level of play was outstanding this past season, he only has one year of starting experience and production. Then when competing at the Combine, Dodd injured his hamstring on his second 40-yard dash; so, NFL teams will need to personally work him out to see how well the young man compares, athletically, to the rest of his class. To get a better idea of the skills and attributes that this young defender will bring to the next level, I reviewed his 2015 games against Louisville, Alabama, Oklahoma and Wake Forest. Here are my thoughts:
DE/OLB – Kevin Dodd, Clemson 6’5” 277 lbs.
With only one year of starting experience, the former Tiger is quite raw with a weakly developed swim move and no other true pass rushing techniques. The defender is sometimes overly patient letting the play reveal itself before striking; although, he does seem to have a sixth sense for misdirection plays (reverses, screens and naked bootlegs). At times, Dodd will extend himself too far over and lose his center of gravity. There is some talk of him becoming an elephant outside linebacker, who would be used almost exclusively as a designated pass rusher. Personally, I have difficulty seeing the former Tiger dropping back in coverage at this level.
Dodd has a combination of brute strength/power and quickness with his hands and feet. His punch and recoil are very good for a one-year starter; these make it easy for him to swat away blockers. The defender rarely lets anyone into his body and does an outstanding job of anchoring the edge with his huge wingspan, which forces plays back inside. The former Tiger has a fantastic first step towards the signal caller and always runs hot, never giving up on a play. His relentless motor combined with good agility and balance makes him a constant threat to blow up a play, even if playing several gaps over. Dodd possesses outstanding vision to find the ball and uses a solid tackling technique to bring the ball carrier down. In my view, he is versatile enough to play defensive end in a 3-4 or a 4-3 front. The best part about this defender’s development is that he kept improving throughout the year; finishing his last five games with at least one sack.
The former Tiger is still a raw piece of clay, but has the athleticism to become a premier defender with the right coaching. His price tag should also be at a good value, as I don’t see him going before the late third or fourth round of most rookie drafts.
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