Rookie LB Kevin Dodd Learning from Vets in First Week



NASHVILLE, Tenn. — **Kevin Dodd walked into the Titans facility on Monday, and had a bit of a flashback.

Dodd is one of the new kids on the block, a second-round pick (33rd) by the team out of Clemson. He began working with his new teammates on the field this week.

"I remember it, (it's) just like back at Clemson, coming in (as a freshman) and, 'Man, I don't know anybody,''' Dodd said on Wednesday. "You are trying to match faces with names and stuff like that. But I try and stay open and try and reach out to everybody.

"(Football-wise) it is a lot of information and you have to take it one day at a time. I go through my playbook every night when I go home."

The Titans drafted Dodd to make an impact as a pass rusher. As a defensive end at Clemson, he racked up 12 sacks in his final season, and had 23.5 tackles for a loss.

In Tennessee, he's working as an outside linebacker. Dodd said today he'd like to drop roughly 5-7 pound from his 275-pound frame to make himself more explosive.

He's already met a few new friends – veteran linebacker Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo.

"(They) have been very helpful to me, basically showing me the way,'' Dodd said of Morgan and Orakpo. "And I embrace that and thank those guys for helping me.

"It is definitely working in my favor right now, just to have those guys when I need somebody to talk to, if I have a question, other than going to the coach. And those guys have been willing to help me. So having them embrace me has helped my transition."

During an appearance at the Titans Caravan last week, Orakpo praised Dodd, and his potential.

"He is just a natural pass rusher,'' Orakpo said of Dodd. "He knows how to get after the quarterback. It is ironic because we had so many injuries last year with our outside backers, it was almost like I was the last man standing in a way (at the end). Now we just continue to added depth to get better.

"We are all going to push each other and I think he is going to be excited about that. This is a team that has a lot of good players, and you push each other and make each other better, and he is going to get a taste of that when he gets here and he's going to fit right in."

NFL draft analysts have expressed mixed reviews on Dodd, who didn't record a sack in his first three seasons at Clemson. Dodd played minimal snaps in his first three years at Clemson, however, and didn't start a game until his final year.

"He's kind of iffy,'' ESPN's Mel Kiper said of Dodd. "He could be a really good pass rusher, he could be a guy who is just average."

"To me, the upside is there,'' added Todd McShay of ESPN. "I think he has more developing he has to do. He is a late-bloomer."

Dodd has confidence in himself, and said he just needed an opportunity to shine.

"I don't think there's too much to prove,'' he said. "I want to show I can play. I can play this game. I definitely have a lot of confidence. I feel I can play this game.

"I want to come into this league and contribute to the Titans organization. I feel like I am going to give the Titans my best."

One thing has already stood out in his first week on the job.

Dodd said it's enough to cause any youngster to get serious.

"Just how guys handle themselves like pros,'' Dodd said. "No one is really getting told what to do. You are expected to do things and that is very different from college. In college it was like 'Hey, be at this meeting and do this' vs. at this level you do things on your own. It is a lot different here. Everything is pretty much on your own and it's your responsibility and you have to be accountable for everything you do."

The Titans select Clemson OLB Kevin Dodd in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft.

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