The Buffalo Bills’ defense was inconsistent throughout the 2015 season as they transitioned to Rex Ryan’s hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme. So, going into the offseason and most notably the 2016 NFL Draft, it’s likely that the team will look to acquire defenders that fit the archetypes for the positions needed for Ryan’s system to thrive. Today, we’ll take a look at Clemson’s edge defender Kevin Dodd.
Kevin Dodd burst onto the scene in 2015 after Vic Beasley left Clemson for the NFL and was dominant throughout the 2015 season, recording 63 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and a forced fumble while registering 65 quarterback pressures. He was an afterthought to fellow defensive end Shaq Lawson for most of the year until the National Championship game against Alabama in which he recorded seven tackles, five for a loss and three sacks.
Kevin Dodd Size/Physical Attributes
Kevin Dodd has ideal size, standing 6’5” and weighing 277 pounds to go with 34” arms. His combination of size, power and length allowed him to play as both an interior defender as well as on the edge throughout the year. Dodd plays with great strength and is incredibly athletic for his size, showing explosiveness, the ability to bend the corner and physically overwhelm opposing linemen.
Kevin Dodd Pass Rush
When it comes to edge rushers, there’s typically two different styles in which they win—either with speed or with power—but Kevin Dodd shows the skills to win with both, depending on the situation. He’s relentless when rushing the passer and truly gives 100% effort on every snap.
Bending the Corner & Changing Direction
In the following play against Oklahoma, Dodd beats the right tackle around the edge with a speed rush before bending around the arc to close on the quarterback Baker Mayfield. Dodd misses the sack, but gets up and continues chasing Mayfield, forcing a throwaway.
The gift of bending is a rare trait and it’s usually the elite pass rushers that possess that kind of flexibility, balance and change of direction ability that allows them to beat opposing linemen and sack the quarterback.
Here against Alabama, Kevin Dodd is at the left defensive end position. At the snap, the right tackle gets to a wide depth in his kick step, allowing Dodd to set him up with either an inside or outside rush. Dodd slaps away the tackle’s hands and beats him outside, but finds himself behind the pocket. He bends at the waist to turn back towards the quarterback, drawing a hold from the right tackle, but still manages to bring down the quarterback for a sack.
Kevin Dodd’s ability to turn the corner and re-direct his path to the quarterback is shown in the following clips. Watch how Dodd uses his hands to control Cincinnati’s right tackle before bending the corner and using his length to sack the passer.
Power, Hustle & Technique
The previous clips showcased Kevin Dodd’s ability to win with speed and athleticism, but he also uses his size, power, length and core strength to his advantage when rushing the passer as well.
Against Louisville, Kevin Dodd showcases his length, leg drive and awareness to disengage from a blocker when rushing the quarterback. At the snap, Dodd displays a great first step and shoots his arms into the pads of the opposing lineman, instantly winning the leverage battle. He drives the lineman back into the pocket before tossing him aside and just missing the sack as the quarterback gets rid of the ball at the last minute.
In the next rep against Notre Dame Dodd shows off his advanced understanding of hand usage, slapping away the arms of the right tackle before physically dominating him and tossing him to the ground.
One area that Kevin Dodd needs to improve is his tendency to lower his head and try to run through opposing linemen with his shoulder. This never works and will typically result in him losing leverage and being washed out of the play.
Kevin Dodd Run Support
As good as Kevin Dodd is as a pass rusher, he’s just as talented when defending the run. His explosiveness, high motor, gap integrity and hustle allow him to be an impact player on early downs. For a player in his first year as a starter, Kevin Dodd showed that he can take to coaching as he displays excellent technique against the run—using his hands to shed blockers, staying patient without overpursuing, as well as showing the strength to set and hold his ground on the edge, allowing his teammates to swarm to the ball.
Here against Alabama, Dodd is the “read” defender against an option look. He stays in his contain technique, but as soon as the ball is handed off to Derrick Henry, he explodes into the backfield and brings him down for a short gain.
Kevin Dodd is quick off the snap and can get skinny when shooting gaps, as he shows in the following play against Alabama as he wraps up Derrick Henry for a loss as soon as he receives the handoff.
Just like with his pass rush, Dodd needs to work on taking on blocks with his hands more consistently, as he’ll lower his head when making initial contact with a defender.
Potential Fit with Buffalo Bills
Kevin Dodd is an interesting prospect that will undoubtedly be on the Buffalo Bills’ radar leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft. Despite only one year of real production, Dodd shows the skill set necessary to be a productive player at the NFL level. The only question in relation to the Bills is where he would play. He has the athleticism to play as an edge rusher in a 3-4, but he also has the length, power and quickness to play as a five-technique defensive end, despite lacking the ideal bulk. Regardless, Kevin Dodd is a solid football player and should only get better with time. Don’t be surprised if you hear his name called at the No. 19 overall pick.
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