Kevin Dodd is one of the top pass rushers from the 2015 college football season. The 12.5 sacks he posted put him in the top five of all FBS pass-rushers in 2015. Dodd is among the fastest rising stars moving up the draft charts and while there may not be great track record of players moving from nowhere to prominence, Dodd is a large, fast player with a clear ability to rush the passer. Being able to pressure the quarterback is a marketable skill that is sure to garner keen interest.
The biggest concern with Dodd's rise to the top is his complete lack of prowess for his first two seasons. During 2013 and 2014, Dodd managed to play in just six games and totaled 13 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and zero sacks. Dodd suddenly exploded this season with 62 tackles (46 solo), 12.5 sacks and 24 TFL. Clearly, Dodd has risen through his work and become the player his statistics insist he has become, but there are other factors to his statistical explosion.
One reason for concern arises from Dodd's teammate Shaq Lawson, who was clearly the better pass rusher coming into the season. Lawson tended to draw the stronger pass blockers while Dodd faced right tackles all season. How much better is Lawson? Look at the mock drafts. Todd McShay has Lawson going 11th overall to the Bears with Dodd falling out of the first round. Mel Kiper has Lawson going at pick 10 to the Giants and again Dodd does not land in the top 32 picks. Scouts Inc. ranks Lawson as the 16th best player and Dodd in 41st. Add in cornerback MacKensie Alexander, and it is likely that Dodd was the third best player on that Clemson defense entering the draft this year. Still, many of these projections came before the results of Dodd's Pro Day on March 10th.
Dodd gives you all the measureables that you could want. He is large, standing 6'5" and weighing an impressive 277 pounds. He has good burst and holds the edge. He managed to show discipline in watching the backside of plays for the cutback lane. Still, Dodd has not faced top competition consistently yet. For his drills, Dodd stood on his Scouting Combine time of 4.86 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but after pulling up lame after that run he was unable to perform any other workouts. However, Dodd was able to put up solid numbers at Clemson's Pro Day on March 10th. He put up a 30.5'' vertical jump, a 4.44 short shuttle, 7.31 in the 3-cone drill and 22 reps on the bench press.
A key factor for the Packers if they are considering Dodd in the first or second rounds is that he would be asked to be a secondary pass rusher early in his career. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are still going to be the focal point of the Packers pass rush and Dodd would likely be asked to go against right tackles as a secondary option. Since the Packers frequently use their nickel package, Dodd would likely see very little time in pass coverage as well.
With another team, Dodd might be asked to anchor the pass rushing attack, but Green Bay would be a better fit to start his career in the rotation. Additionally, Dodd will need more time to develop into a more sophisticated pass rusher and he would have the structure and leadership to grow in Green Bay. However, Ted Thompson has generally placed less faith in one year starters in the past so it seems fairly likely Dodd will find himself elsewhere.