Kevin Dodd – Edge, Clemson
Another pass rusher comes off the board. A one year wonder, but it was a heck of a year. He has great length and physicality. He’s not the supreme athlete teams love on the edge but is more than capable of setting a hard edge vs the run or the pass. He joins Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan in a nice rotation of pressure players.
Clemson’s other pass rusher fully intended to return for the Tigers in 2016, where he would have been top cat with Lawson off to the NFL. But then the post-season happened, and a ridiculous 8.5 TFLs combined versus Oklahoma and Alabama happened. As mentioned earlier, Dodd’s late season surge boosted him up to second in the entire country for TFLs with 23.5 in his first season as a starter, going from an unknown to a star on the national scene especially after the last couple performances. Unlike his teammate, Dodd comes with much more traditional size to the position. Despite his base end build, Dodd was used frequently standing up from a 2 point stance as well as with his hand in the dirt. His game isn’t really about quick reactions off the snap or speed in general. But his heavy hands, excellent drive and good strength is tough to handle snap in and snap out, as practically every right tackle found out very quickly this season. His tenacity and effort to go with his length led to the impressive tangible results he put up each contest. What is quite surprising for someone who has not played a great deal is his ability to set the edge, get off of blocks, and make a lot of stops in the run game, either forcing the runner back inside or taking him down with efficiency himself. Dodd, as well reported, was very bad when initially joining the team, with his coaches questioning whether he truly belonged. Part of the issue was that he had only played one season of football in high school. He put in the hard work, improved his game, with the result being the huge breakout season he just completed, which will pay off with an early selection in the upcoming draft. (Rebecca Rennie)