Edge Rusher, Clemson 6ft 5 – 277 lbs
|40-Yard Dash: 4.86 sec (1.69 split)||Bench Press: 22 reps|
|Vertical Jump: 30.5”||3-Cone Drill: 7.32 sec|
|Broad Jump: 9ft 2||20-Yard Shuttle: 4.44 sec|
If Kevin Dodd goes at some point in the first round of the NFL Draft as expected, it will conclude a remarkable season for the former Tiger. Entering the 2015 college season, no one could have predicted that he would be one of those envied few walking across the stage in Chicago to shake the commissioner’s hand. Prior to this season, Dodd had been a three-year backup. There were even times in his early days at the school where coaches were questioning whether he even belonged on a football field. Part of the issue there is that he only played one season of football in high school, and was way behind the majority of young players at that stage of joining the Clemson team. In addition, a knee injury in 2013 held his progress back a bit. He worked exceptionally hard though, improving his game, and earned a starting role this year as a redshirt junior. He played well right from the start, piling up 10 tackles for loss in the first 8 games of the season as the Tigers worked their way to the number one spot in the national rankings that set them on course on the way to earning their spot in the playoffs later in the year. Despite the success he was having, Dodd didn’t truly get the wider degree of national attention that his play deserved until those playoffs in the semi-final versus Oklahoma and then the title game against Alabama. Over those two contests, Dodd was unstoppable, totalling a ridiculous 8.5 tackles for loss with 4 sacks over those two battles. He tormented the Tide’s right tackle Dominick Jackson all game long in the narrow loss. His teammate on the other side Shaq Lawson received most of the media attention, and certainly deserved a lot of that in leading the nation in tackles for loss with 25.5. Yet by the season’s conclusion, it was Dodd who finished right behind him in second with 23.5 of his own, along with 12 sacks, 62 tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked kick on special teams. Though he initially was intending to return to play his senior year, with his rocketing draft stock he took the understandable decision to leave for the NFL now. Dodd certainly comes with more prototypical size than his teammate with a big body and excellent length. He’s nowhere near as explosive though, lacking that burst off the snap to give offensive lineman trouble early. Where he does win though and found success all year was with his combination of a high motor and heavy hands, showing excellent drive and strength that found consistent results over the course of a game and season. There’s tenacity in his game that combined with his long reach is tough to handle snap after snap. What is really impressive about his game, and quite surprising given his relative lack of experience is how reliable and disciplined he is against the run. Dodd understands his role in setting the edge and redirecting a running back into the path of his waiting teammates. When he’s the one in position to make the play, he sheds blocks and wraps up the ball carrier well. That high effort and motor is put to great use in pursuit, with Dodd regularly seen chasing to the sidelines to get in on additional plays. I’m not sure there’s a huge ceiling with Dodd, but he does have a high floor to be an effective and productive pro. There’s more than enough on film that convinces he is not just a one season wonder. Dodd’s stock, and as a result predicting where he’ll go, is a bit tricky to determine. He could be targeted in the top half of the first round, he might last toward the end of Thursday night. The likes of the Bills and Jets could make him a late top 20 selection, while despite their need in the secondary, the Panthers could see him as a great fit should he make it down to their pick at 30.