Kevin Dodd

By Bill Latin (@BillLatin)


 

Kevin Dodd – DE, Clemson 


 

 

Introduction

Clemson DE Kevin Dodd comes into this draft as perhaps the second fiddle on his own team to Clemson’s Shaq Lawson.  By the time the season ended he was just as respected as a talent to Lawson.  This year’s draft has a number of talented edge rushers.  Kevin Dodd has a chance to be one of the best of them.  He very may well be a safer pick than DeForest Buckner or Joey Bosa.  The best part is that he is going to be a much better value.  He is currently the 8th ranked DL and the 44th best rookie prospect according to our DFW IDP ranking team.

Dodd was a reserve player for his first three years. Opportunity was hard to come by.  In 2014 he only saw 92 snaps.  That year Clemson had six D-linemen who went on to the NFL off that No. 1-ranked defense.  Dodd remained patient as he learned from the best in the country.  He made the most of his opportunity as a starter in 2015.  Working opposite Shaq Lawson, the two created a menacing defensive front for Clemson.  Dodd had 46 solo tackles, 16 assists, 24 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.  Those numbers outperformed his counterpart, Shaq Lawson.

NFL Combine Results

Dodd was not able to participate in all combine events.  He had a 4.86 second 40-yard dash, which tied Joey Bosa.  He pulled up with an injury on his second attempt and chose to not compete in the rest of the events.  His Pro-Day results were a mediocre mixed bag.  He had a three cone drill of 7.18 seconds.  That would have been 9th best at the combine.  His broad jump was 9’2″.  His short shuttle was 4.44 seconds.  He turned in a 30 1/2″ vertical.   Those numbers don’t jump of the page as elite athleticism, but were solid overall.

Tackling – One of Dodd’s biggest strengths is his footwork.  In addition, he does not lay on blocks.  This puts him in position to be an efficient tackler.  Dodd had 62 total tackles in 2015, which is a very good number from the DE position.

Instincts – He never loses sight of the ball, which sets him up to always be in the area of the play.  He has a nose not only for the ball, but where the ball is going.

Pass Rush – I am very impressed with Dodd’s ability to sniff out screens and shovel passes.  He puts tremendous pressure on the QB, as he was credited with 46 QB pressures in 2015.  He had 12.5 sacks which is outstanding.  His prototypical size allows him to be an effective pass-rusher.  Because his lack of experience he tends to use the same hand swipe when rushing the QB.  He will need to develop his technique to be successful at the NFL level.

Run Defense– Dodd is very good in containment.  He ranked 6th among edge rushers and had the second most stops (44).  He follows his assignments very well.  At times he can get caught up engaging blocks rather than controlling them.  Dodd will need to improve his hands a bit to be effective as a run stuffer.

Coverage – I see some stiffness in his lateral agility that could affect his skills in coverage.  He will need to keep a better base to track RB’s coming out of the backfield.  In addition, if he wants to stay on the field consistently he will need to improve here as well.

Size – 6’5″ 275 lbs 10 inch hands and 34″ arms.  Dodd checks all the boxes

Athleticism – I am not blown away by Dodd’s athleticism.  He makes up for it with his football IQ and his passion for learning the game.  He is an above average prospect in a mediocre edge rushing rookie class.

Versatility – I believe Dodd to be a bit one dimensional.  He seems destined to be in a 4-3 system.  At Clemson he only played on the left side facing only RT’s.  He could possibly kick inside on passing downs.  Some are concerned that he is a one year wonder, while others are seeing the production and way he finished the season.  In the National Championship game versus Alabama, Dodd recorded 7 tackles and 3 sacks.

Intangible – Coaches love his drive and leadership.  In addition, his work ethic is very strong.  In today’s NFL, good character is worth a great deal and Dodd is that type of a player.

Medical – There are no ongoing medical issues of note.

Motor – Dodd is tenacious in his approach.  He stays with the play and doesn’t over pursue.  Dodd’s vision allows him to create opportunities with that drive.  He is willing to do what it takes to stay on his assignment and complete his job.  He will not be outworked.

NFL Draft Projection

The draft pundits vary on opinion with Dodd’s ceiling.  The NFL grades him as a second round talent.  There are always teams looking for pressure on the edge, so he could perhaps get over drafted.   Rushing the QB is the name of the game.  Some mock drafts have him going as high as 14 to the Raiders.  I believe an ideal spot for Dodd would be the Carolina Panthers at 30.  The top offensive lineman will be off the board and this is about the right spot for Dodd to be selected.  Dodd would pair up well with Kony Ealy and ease in behind an aging and ineffective Charles Johnson.  Cincinnati Bengals at 24 is another option, but they have other pressing needs.  Seattle is always looking for pass rushers, but they need to fortify a depleted offensive line in the worst way.  The Falcons pick at 17, but there will most likely be a better option as an edge rusher than Dodd at that spot.  If he slips into the second round, the Dallas Cowboys would be a great landing spot.  Dallas could get a solid pass rusher that is healthy and a high character player as well.  If Dallas were to pass, I believe Jacksonville would be the lowest Dodd would slip at the 38th overall pick.  He would pair well with newly signed Malik Jackson, and allow them to work Dante Fowler Jr. back into the mix coming of his ACL injury.

Fantasy Projections

I currently have Dodd as the 6th best DE in this class.  I have him slated as the 54th best rookie prospect overall.  That translates into a mid 5th round pick.  Depending on your roster, Dodd is worth a stash.  Edge rushing DE’s that put up great numbers are hard to come by.  Oftentimes they are worth a late round flier.  I especially like the fact that he is a high character guy, performed at a high level last year, and has received very positive feedback from his coaches and interviews.  You will most likely have to temper your expectations due to where he will be drafted in the NFL.  However, if you spend a mid 5th or later your risk is well worth the reward!