The New Orleans Saints have many decisions on their hands with their 12th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, so how would Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd fit in the scenario?
Everyone from casual fans to draft experts, to writers like those you see here at Who Dat Dish, all agree that something the New Orleans Saints desperately need is a better pass rush.
The Saints only have Pro-Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan as a legitimate pass rusher right now, and as we witnessed in last year’s Super Bowl, the key to a great defense is having pressure coming from both sides.
Even head coach Sean Payton has publicly acknowledged that the team needs pass rush help, and that brings us to today’s player: Kevin Dodd formerly of Clemson.
Weight: 277 LBS
Arm length: 34 inches
Hands: 10 inches
Scouting Combine Results:
40-yard dash: 4.86
Kevin Dodd was the ‘wing man’ to fellow Clemson pass rusher Shaq Lawson, and he seemed very comfortable in that role. Dodd has a near non-stop motor and his relentless style of play combined with his NFL ready frame allowed him to burst onto the scene in 2015 as a key contributor to the one of the nation’s top defenses.
The former Clemson Tiger looks the part of an NFL defensive end, and he has the power and drive to match it. What Dodd lacks are experience (only one year as a starter) and technique. If his work ethic on the field is any indication of his work ethic off the field, Dodd could become a real contributor sooner rather than later.
What is concerning with Dodd though is that he almost always was the afterthought for opponents as they primarily focused on stopping Lawson, yet Dodd was never really dominant even when facing lesser tackles. His poor technique and excessively aggressive play often put him in bad positions, but because of the overall excellence of the team around him, there were fewer negative plays. The biggest question with Dodd is whether he is able to be the primary pass rusher for a team (something the New Orleans Saints need) instead of being the ‘clean up’ guy.
Dodd does have an NFL-ready frame and his motor will likely net him several ‘effort sacks’ throughout the course of a season. However, his lack of technical prowess as well as his less than elite athleticism makes him more of a project pass rusher than a sure thing. Dodd COULD develop into a legitimate pass rusher at the NFL level, but he also has high bust potential. If there is one player Dodd reminds me of more than any other over the last few seasons, it’s former Georgia Bulldog Jarvis Jones.
Jones was also a highly-touted pass rusher coming out of college, and like Jones, I believe Dodd’s lack of any elite traits will prevent him from becoming any kind of true difference maker. That doesn’t mean he can’t become a quality NFL player, but it is very questionable whether Dodd is a player who should be taken in the first OR the second round by a team needing a pass rusher today.
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The fit for the New Orleans Saints:
Dodd simply isn’t a player I would be interested in seeing the New Orleans Saints draft. He may have a decently high ceiling, but he also has a very low floor in my opinion. This team NEEDS a legitmate pass rusher opposite Jordan, and if I have the choice between a rookie project in Dodd or second-year pro Hau’oli Kikaha…I’m going with Kikaha every single time.
I’m not claiming to know the future, but Dodd’s game screams ‘product of his environment’ to me. His teammate Shaq Lawson was much more the driving force of that Clemson defense, and the lack of technical prowess along with inferior athleticism makes me very hesitant to take Dodd anytime before the fourth round. He simply isn’t the kind of edge rusher the New Orleans Saints need to team-up with Jordan.