Kevin Dodd finished the 2015-16 season with 62 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks in his first and only year as a starter at Clemson. Dodd boasts good body control and quickness along with above average play recognition. He uses his hands well while rushing and has a rip move that prevents opposing blockers from locking on. He rarely ever gets beat on a play. According to Lance Zierlein of NFL.com, Dodd played his best football at the end of the season finishing the year with a sack in 5 consecutive games. Zierlein also pointed out that Dodd is extremely instinctive and well-coached. According to Pro Football Focus, he earned the 9th-best overall grade among edge defenders in '15-'16 featuring the 6th-best run defense grade. He has a lot of positional versatility in that he can be a 4-3 Defensive End, a 3-4 Defensive End, and even an inside pass rusher on passing downs.
One of Dodd's concerns is that he played exclusively against Right Tackles on an already stacked Clemson Defensive Line. He also played with some talented Defensive Backs including 2 possible 1st Round Cornerbacks who force the Quarterback to hold onto the ball long enough for the Defensive Line to get sacks. At times early in the season his raw statistics didn't show much production. Another major concern is that he missed 11 tackles last year, which was the 8th most among edge players according to Pro Football Focus. Dane Brugler and Rob Rang of CBS Sports pointed out that Dodd may possess an underdeveloped pass rush repertoire in which he needs to add more pass rush moves. Brugler and Rang also wrote that Dodd has a tendency of thinking too much on the field, and plays overly patient at times.
Lance Zierlein compared Dodd to Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks in his breakdown of Dodd's NFL potential. Dodd drew a comparison to Kony Ealy of the Carolina Panthers from Brugler and Rang at CBS Sports. I think Michael Bennett is probably Dodd's ceiling as an NFL player, and I think he should fall somewhere in between the production level of Kony Ealy and the aforementioned Bennett.
Sports with Jim Film Room
I'll give Clemson fans ample warning to scroll past this example of Dodd's poor tackling in which he is juked out by Jake Coker on one of the biggest plays of the game. Clips like these are not what you want to see from a player who may be tasked with tackling Cam Newton in the open field at the next level.
(video courtesy: CFBattle on Youtube)
The clip below shows an example of Dodd having trouble tackling running backs as well. This can be fixed at the next level, but with the increasing focus on player safety and the reduction of live tackling in practice at the NFL level, it will be tough.
(video courtesy: tigerray on Youtube)
First, I'd like to take a look at a couple plays that showcase Dodd's power in the pass rush game. He has never met an Offensive Lineman that he couldn't knock backwards, and that kind of power should be able to translate to the next level.
Along with his superhuman power in the pass rush, he also possesses the speed and bend to make it to the Quarterback rushing from the outside, despite a desperate hold from the Right Tackle.
In the play below, Dodd shows that he can generate a pass rush from the inside by using his hands well and gets low by "running the hoop" then attacks the Quarterback. These are the type of plays that will make NFL scouts forget about the missed tackles for a while.
The main reason this next play is impressive is because it came directly before the play above. This tackle for loss was mainly a result of Offensive Line miscommunication, regardless, Dodd makes 2 consecutive plays in the backfield against the nation's best Offensive Line to set up a 3rd and 19 for Alabama. This is the kind of one-man wrecking crew NFL teams are looking to spend their first round pick on.
The play below is another example of Dodd embarrassing this poor Right Tackle from Alabama. Again we see why scouts are so quick to compliment Dodd's hands.
This next play shows absolutely perfect run defense technique by Dodd. He keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage, doesn't run upfield at all, squeezes down the line, and finishes it off with a nice tackle on the Heisman Trophy winner.
The play below shows that you can't give Dodd any sort of opening on the backside of a zone run play, otherwise he will shoot right through it and tackle your Running Back in the backfield.
Mock Draft Database
Adam Stites' article for SB Nation contains an enormous mock draft database that collects data from hundreds of mock drafts and determines the percentage of where each mock draft mocks a player. The data will continue to be updated all the way until draft day, so keep up with it here. I went ahead and searched for where the mock drafts included would be taking Kevin Dodd and here are the results:
9. Buccaneers 7.1%
10. Giants 4%
12. Saints 3%
13. Dolphins 4%
17. Falcons 8.1%
19. Bills 9.1%
20. Jets 3%
26. Seahawks 3%
29. Cardinals 6.1%
30. Panthers 18.2%
The prevailing opinions based on this data is that 1. Dodd shouldn't expect to drop out of the first round, and 2. the draft experts expect him to move all the way to the state of North Carolina to further his football career. Where do you want Dodd to get drafted? I'd love to hear where you would select him and your rationale for doing so either in the comments section or tweet them to me @sportswithjim.