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Clemson Players Look to Fill a Variety of Roles After 2016 NFL Draft

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We take a look at where some of Clemson's alumni were taken in the 2016 NFL draft.

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Kevin Dodd - Round 2 Pick 33, Tennessee Titans

Kevin Dodd, along with about 70 other Draft prospects, received First Round hype in the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft. Instead, he slipped to the 2nd pick of the 2nd round and was quickly snatched up by the Tennessee Titans. Pro Football Focus gave the Titans a C on the Dodd pick with this explanation: "...Dodd had a great finish to the season that may have inflated his stock. He's a good run defender (sixth in the class) using his hands well to shed blocks, but his +18.2 pass-rush grade ranked 25th in the class, so he may settle in as more of a run-first type of outside linebacker in Tennessee's 3-4."

Weighing 277 lbs. and running a 4.86 second 40-yard dash will prevent Dodd from lining up at OLB on a majority of snaps. He could put on a bit more weight and play DE in the 3-4. His strength in run defense leads me to believe he can play the 5-technique DE in the 3-4. He won't be asked to make many tackles in the 3-4, which should cover up one of his weaknesses I mentioned in his Draft Profile. Although Dodd is strong enough, it is hard to determine whether he will be successful against double teams at the next level because he didn't have to face many in college thanks to Clemson's talent along the Defensive Line. I think the he can quiet the criticism of his pass rush ability by adding a couple of pass rush moves over the offseason. If Tennessee can coach him up on how to take on these double teams, he should have success as a 3-4 DE for the Titans.

Mackensie Alexander - Round 2 Pick 54, Minnesota Vikings

Mackensie Alexander was the 21st-ranked player on Pro Football Focus' Draft Board, so they were surprised to see him available when the Vikings' Second Round selection came at pick number 54 in the Draft. PFF gave the Vikings an A for their pick of Alexander with this explanation: "...Alexander is strong in man coverage and his movement skills allow him to stay with shifty receivers. The Clemson scheme did him no favors from a grading standpoint, but he allowed only 0.66 yards per cover snap, good for 10th in the class. He struggles with zone concepts at times, missing tackles in open space, but Alexander is a good pick at this point in the draft." PFF clarified their comment about Clemson's scheme in an article where they pegged Alexander as a top 5 pick from Round 2 by saying, "He was frequently asked to shadow the opposing team's top receiver and was also asked to play some zone coverages on an island with no support underneath."

Alexander joins a defense that was good enough to win the NFC North last season despite receiving less-than-stellar offensive support in 2015-16. He will compete with the 11th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Trae Waynes, for the No. 2 CB position on the Vikings' Depth Chart behind former Seminole Xavier Rhodes. Waynes was a disappointment for the Vikings in 2015-16, and was given only one start during the entire season. The door is open for Alexander to start the season opener at CB if he is able to improve his zone coverage awareness, and prove his man-to-man skills will be as successful against NFL Wide Receivers.

Read Mackensie Alexander's Draft Profile

B.J. Goodson - Round 4 Pick 109, New York Giants

Todd McShay labeled Goodson as the best pick in the Giants' 2016 Draft, and Pro Football Focus echoed his praise in writing, "The Clemson linebacker missed only nine tackles on 118 attempts last year and fills a glaring need for the Giants." The Giants ranked dead last in pass defense and 24th in run defense in a 2015-16 season that saw many games slip away from them as a result of their poor defense. The Giants' Depth Chart was void of talent at the LB position in 2015, which should see a bit of turnover before Week 1 of 2016.

The Giants spent a fortune on defense in free agency giving a record contract to Olivier Vernon (5 yrs/$85 mil) while adding Damon Harrison (5 yrs/$46.25 mil) and Janoris Jenkins (5 yrs/$62.5) to similarly lucrative contracts. GM Jerry Reese did not address the Linebacker position during his free agency shopping spree, which should provide playing time opportunity for B.J. Goodson. I would expect to see Goodson primarily utilized on running downs while the Giants coaches attempt to further his development in pass coverage. The opportunity is there for Goodson, now it is up to him to prove that he can be a starting NFL Linebacker.

Charone Peake - Round 7 Pick 241, New York Jets

Pro Football Focus on Charone Peake, "Peake has the body of a top prospect, but lacks the production. He drops too many passes (5 of 55 catchable) and lacks dynamism after the catch." Peake will have the benefit of learning from 2 successful veteran Wide Receivers, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, but the biggest question for the Jets is who will be their starting Quarterback in 2016. Peake's immediate impact may be found in his run blocking ability, which was on full display during the Tigers' blowout at Miami.

Traits like these are what NFL coaches look for in their 7th-Round picks, and could be a determining factor in whether Peake makes the 53-man roster. Peake's athleticism and physicality could have him seeing playing time on Special Teams early in his career. I wouldn't advise drafting Peake for your fantasy football team in 2016, but he may be able to make an impact on the field that won't show up in the stat sheet.

Zac Brooks - Round 7 Pick 247, Seattle Seahawks

Brooks struggled to see much playing time at Clemson, and that problem may follow him to the NFL due to a crowded backfield in Seattle. In addition to the return of Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks drafted 2 Running Backs in front of Brooks (C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins) who were both more productive than Brooks in college. Brooks' ceiling in the NFL looks to be as a 3rd down back in order to best utilize his pass-catching abilities. Those services might not be needed in Seattle because Prosise and Collins both project as better 3rd down RBs than Brooks. Prosise provides exceptional receiving ability as a former WR, and Collins excels in pass blocking. In my opinion, Brooks would be very fortunate to make the 53-man roster, but it is a possibility that he has talent that he wasn't able to show in his limited snaps at Clemson. Seattle RBs do have a history of being picked up by other NFL teams on the waiver wire after release, so Brooks could have an NFL career ahead of him even if it's not with the Seahawks.

Check for part 2 looking at the rest of our picks later this week.