The selection of Kevin Dodd was just the first of a series of moves that we really didn't see coming on day two of the 2016 NFL Draft. I think we all knew that pass rushing "edge" depth needed to be addressed, but I didn't think Jon Robinson would take care of that need so early.
So what did the Titans land in Kevin Dodd? A legitimate third option on the edge. I said going into the 2015 season that I was shocked Ruston Webster didn't add more depth behind Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, which unfortunately proved to be a big issue. Deiontrez Mount and David Bass were the depth guys heading into the season, but after Mount went down with an ACL injury it was just Bass and a couple guys that were signed off the street. When Derrick Morgan went down with a shoulder issue, the defense was toast. Teams focused on Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo with virtually nothing else to worry about. Orakpo didn't post another sack after Morgan was shut down.
Jon Robinson knew that he couldn't go into his first season with just Mount and Bass again. In steps Kevin Dodd. After waiting his turn at Clemson, Dodd was one of the most productive players in college football last season. 46 quarterback pressures and 12.5 sacks pushed Dodd into the national spotlight last season. His destruction of Alabama's Dominik Jackson really got his hype train rolling heading into draft season.
Dodd is guy that will give you decent athleticism and great size on the edge. He showed that he has enough speed to get around the edge against right tackles, utilizing his ability to bend and flashing some strength in his hands. He isn't a one trick pony, either. Holding an edge against the run should never be an issue for Dodd with his 6-5, 277 pound frame. He will slot in immediately behind Orakpo and Morgan as the third outside linebacker in the rotation. We should see plenty of Dodd in sub packages, particularly as a nickel or dime defensive end.
Here are a couple of examples of what Dodd is going to bring as a pass rusher.
If Dodd didn't win with speed last season, he won with this rip move. He's very effective with this move, using it to gain leverage and turn the corner. He uses it again on the next rep.
This is a good example of Dodd bending the edge and winning with speed. The right tackle couldn't keep up with Dodd as he got up the field, giving Dodd a lane to the passer. Dodd finishes the rush with a rip and gets to Coker.
Notice a trend here? Burst, dip, rip, sack. That's Dodd.
Speed was the name of Dodd's game at Clemson. It was by far his best and most utilized weapon as a pass rusher. He used his hands well, delivering quick jabs to keep the tackle off of him while maintaining his speed. He did a great job of fighting and slapping the opponents punch away, keeping tackles from engaging on him.
I would have liked to have seen a larger variance of pass rushing moves, but what Dodd did worked for him. Let's keep in mind that he's only played one full season of big time college ball, so although he's 24 years old he still has only started 15 games -- which were all in 2015. He still has some things to learn as a pass rusher, but starting off with size, speed and bend will give Dodd an edge. Those are things you can't teach.
One thing that stood out repeatedly was Dodd's motor. I really don't like using that term because it's so cliche, but I didn't notice Dodd taking any plays or giving up at any point in plays. He's a relentless guy that's going to give you his maximum effort even if he's out of the play.
Dodd will bring immediate speed off the edge, which is harder to find out of guys that are 270+ pounds. His ability to hold up in the run game along with burst and an ability to bend the edge should make him an everyday player in the future. For 2016, Dodd will provide insurance for Dick LeBeau while making an immediate impact as a sub package rusher and rotational player.
With Orakpo and Morgan locked up for three more seasons, Dodd may be in for a wait before he can be considered a true "starter," but we know how important role players are to the NFL. Jon Robinson has mentioned stacking his draft board by "roles," so I'm not going to get caught up in whether or not Dodd can start right off the bat or even down the road. It's clear he was drafted to play a specific part in this defense.
You don't see many teams creating pressure consistently with just one pass rusher anymore -- you want to have threats coming from all over the field. Expect to see Dodd spelling Orakpo and Morgan some this season, but I'd also expect all three of them to be on the field on passing downs. The three of them should allow Dick LeBeau to have plenty of creativity as he dials up pressure.