Defensive End Kevin Dodd from Clemson was a guy that I hadn’t really noticed until he played my Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Most college and NFL football fans know his defensive line-mate Shaq Lawson. But when Clemson played the Irish, Dodd was the guy that flashed. He ended that game with 2 sacks.
Dodd was a reserve player his first couple years in “Death Valley”. He only played in 219 snaps to start his career and only produced 21 tackles.
That all changed in 2015. In his first full season as a starter, he finished with 62 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.
Many scouts will argue that he was the product of offensive coordinators sliding the pass protections to stop Lawson. There is some truth to that, but the key to realizing his talent is watching the player execute his job on any given play.
“I truly feel like I am physically and mentally ready for the next challenge.” -Kevin Dodd
Once you put on the film you will see that he possesses an array of skills that translate to the NFL game.
Such as his first step. His speed is a threat enough to create issues for tackles.
On the following play Dodd gets a great jump on the snap. He fights through the chip by the tight end, utilizes his strong hand game to pressure the QB.
Within the Clemson defensive scheme the 6’5″, 275 pound end perfected his role. Clemson used Dodd in a very similar role to Mario in 2015. When they were in an odd front Dodd was a rush-contain player. Clemson played a lot of 3-3-5 in pass rushing situations, which is why I think he is a good fit for the Bills defense.
Rex loves to disguise his blitzes and pressures by having 3 defensive lineman and the fourth rusher coming from all areas of the field.
When Dodd was in those situations, he flourished.
On the following play, the Tigers are in an odd front and they bring a DB off the edge. Dodd sets the tackle up with a quick stab move outside then rips inside to pressure the QB. The pressures forces the interception.
Against Oklahoma, Clemson showed a lot of 3 down lineman looks. On this play Dodd uses the swipe and rip to pressure the QB. The pressure leads to a sack for teammate Lawson.
Dodd is projected to go in the first round not for his speed, but for his arsenal of pass rush moves. On this play Clemson only rushes three defensive lineman. Dodd maintains his contain responsibilities and with the QB at the top of his drop, uses a strong bull rush to bring the QB down.
On the following play Dodd shows his bull rush again, jolting Notre Dame’s right tackle.
Here is Dodd’s best pass rush combination. He rushes outside then executes a double handed swipe with a smooth transition to the rip move for the sack.
On the following play Dodd is reading the footwork of the tight tend. The footwork shows zone to the defenses right, but Bama executes the play-fake. Dodd then transitions to a pass rush move and uses a good rip move to beat the TE.
Another double swipe and rip play for the sack. He owned the tackles for Alabama during the National Championship.
Dodd didn’t utilize many inside pass rush moves because of the defensive scheme. Clemson liked keeping the athletic player on the edge with contain responsibilities. But when given the freedom to rush inside, his excellent outside rush set up the inside game really well.
On the following play Dodd sets up the tackle up-field, then gives him a one handed swipe and rip to get free. Too bad his feet got tangled up.
Another great play off the snap. He rushes up-field then cuts inside, throws a nice swim move to get free.
Kevin Dodd is quite an advanced pass rusher for a red-shirt junior. But he is no slouch versus the run. The very same skills that help him get to the quarterback are utilized to defend the run. Dodd’s ability to read the opposing lineman’s footwork, process and react really put him in position to make plays in the backfield. He had 23.5 tackles for loss which was second in the nation behind Lawson.
He isn’t a risk taker or gambler, he plays within the defensive scheme. This is exemplified on the following play.
Dodd is responsible for the near RB. The DB has the QB and the ILB has the weak-side RB. Dodd keeps his eyes up on his key and makes the tackle through all of the traffic.
Many times you can see Dodd watching the footwork of the offensive tackle. The footwork will give the play away. Watch how he reads and diagnosis this run play.
The tackle blocks down and Dodd sees a guard coming right at him. He meets the lineman tight to the line of scrimmage with force! The play is blown up by Dodd’s ability to diagnose and fill. Watch the guard’s head snap back when he makes contact with Dodd.
On the following play Dodd has his eyes up reading the track of the RB, attacks the inside shoulder of the reach block to bring down the RB.
Here he is the beneficiary of a good run fit exchange. His quick step allows him to shoot the inside gap.
At times Clemson asked the defensive stud to drop into coverage. His length can affect the quarterback’s passing lane. Dropping into coverage isn’t his best attribute but he is able to execute the play from time to time.
On the following play you can see Dodd pass the crossing TE off, drop back into the hook/curl zone. Coker has nowhere to throw the ball because Dodd is in the passing lane of the WR, so the QB throws it away.
I love the fluidity shown by Dodd on this play. He aligns as if he was going to rush the QB, but then the RB releases and Dodd is responsible for the outlet receiver. This is a a skill that the Bills’ outside linebackers must be able to execute under Rex Ryan.
Many Bills fans are worried about Dodd’s meteoric rise into spotlight in 2015 and into the drafts’ first round. Unfortunately, we saw that very same narrative when the Bills drafted Aaron Maybin. But Dodd isn’t a “one hit wonder”, he has sat behind some very productive talent at Clemson. Dodd was buried on the depth chart for the last couple years behind Corey Crawford, Tavaris Barnes and Falcons’ first round pick Vic Beasley. He waited for his chance to start for the Tigers, his motivation and fortitude are a testament to his character.“I want them to say, Hey Kevin, it’s third down. Let’s go. I want to be that dominant person, when it’s third down, when it’s time to sack the quarterback.”
His “drop the mic moment” definitely occurred in the National Championship game. In front of millions of people, some of which were Bills’ scouts and Rex Ryan I’m sure, Dodd finished the game with 7 tackles and 3 sacks. He displayed just about every aspect of his game on the big stage.
Kevin Dodd isn’t projected as the best run stopping defensive lineman, or the best pass rushing defensive lineman. But overall, he may be a guy that possesses all of the attributes you want in your first round pick. He is solid across the board.
If plugged into the Bills’ defensive scheme I think he could make an immediate impact. He could be the defensive end opposite Jerry Hughes but also could fill the Rush linebacker position when Hughes needs a blow. He is fully capable and willing to do all of the responsibilities that defensive ends are asked to do in Rex’ scheme.
Dodd at pick 19 would be a solid choice, but probably a little bit of a reach. With that said, I was really impressed with his play in 2015. I must say that he is going to turn some heads next season if plugged into the right scheme.
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