The Clemson Tigers rode a dominant defense all the way to the College National Championship title game, before ultimately falling to the dynastic Crimson Tide. It was a bittersweet finish for many of Clemson's players, who didn't quite complete the dream, but showcased their talents on the biggest stage of all. Kevin Dodd, a defensive end, was among those who made the most of his chances and put in a three-sack performance with the nation watching. We take a look at whether he's a suitable candidate for the New York Giants in the upcoming NFL Draft.
- Stout run defense, with strong showings on first and second down.
- Great patience when defending the run. Won't over-pursue. Understands gaps.
- Physical tools for pass-rushing are there, and could be unlocked with right team and coach.
- SackSEER scores were depressingly low. Football Outsiders projects him as having just 12 sacks over his first five years in the league, with a 9.0 percent chance of success. It's a metric I get behind, because it has worked in the past. I wrote about it more here.
- Only one year as a starter.
- Massively inconsistent, hot and cold.
- Played on the left for every snap. No experience against college left-tackles, let alone NFL blindside blockers.
- Likely benefited from playing in a Clemson line that includes potential first-rounder Shaq Lawson.
Big Board Rankings
Big Blue View - 46th
Mocking The Draft - 41st
CBS - 30th
Draft Tek - 29th
Does He Fit With the Giants?
It comes down to whether or not the Giants want another Justin Tuck, because that's sort of what Dodd projects as in a best case scenario. Actually, he's like a reverse Tuck because Tuck was better rushing the passer in the early years and those talents faded over time. Dodd's pass rush skills would have to be built from the ground up.
Dodd's run defense is superb. He moves with the play rather than the player and often offers something as a second tackler or cutbacks. He is very methodical in his approach, and while it pays dividends against runs, I wonder if it holds him back in rushing the passer.
He could give something to the Giants, but I don't think the team would be willing to put a rookie out there on early downs when they have experienced options who could give a lot more. Dodd technically fits fine from a scheme point, but does the team want to invest in another developmental defensive end? His likely role would align too closely to Owa Odighizuwa, who has a higher upside and a year's head start.
I do expect this to be one of the names that falls on draft weekend. I wouldn't be surprised if Dodd -- a player previously thought of as a potential first-rounder, even a top-10 pick -- is available when the Giants pick late on Day 2.
Between finishing the season with five straight games with a sack (including a trio against Alabama in the title game), and now, when we're looking at him with analytics and spider graphs and all sorts of projections, it's been a rough ride for Dodd. The NFL is better when there are more top pass-rushers, so I'm rooting for Dodd to fulfill on those college numbers more than the draft metrics, but right now, I don't think the Giants could buy in at a premium price. I think he's certainly good enough to make it somewhere, but I don't think that somewhere is New York.