Tennessee Titans: What to expect from Kevin Dodd in 2017

The Tennessee Titans selected Kevin Dodd in the second round of the 2016 draft, but what can they expect from him in the 2017 season?

Kevin Dodd was a bit of a one-year wonder at Clemson, having served as a backup in his first three seasons. But he busted out in his final year for the Tigers, recording 12.5 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss playing opposite Shaq Lawson. It was a good enough one-season effort to land the talented pass rusher in the second round of the 2016 draft with the Tennessee Titans.

Dodd had surgery to repair a foot injury in May 2016. The injury continued to be an issue throughout the season. And he was limited to nine games as a reserve outside linebacker for the Titans. He had a sack and five tackles before being shut down because of the foot injury.

The Titans have been more than patient with Dodd. But they need more.

Head coach Mike Mularkey said he expects Dodd to be ready to go at full speed when training camp begins at the end of July. And after an injury-plagued rookie season, it will be interesting to see what kind of leap Dodd can make. The head coach said this, via TitansOnline.com:

“It’s highly likely (he’ll be ready for camp), unless he drops a weight on it or something,” Mularkey said. “He should not be on my injury report list (at the start of camp). … He is running full-speed. I saw him this morning, he was out here at 6:30 running.”

In an ideal world, the Titans wouldn’t need contributions from Dodd in 2017. After all, starting outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan combined for 19.5 sacks last season. Orakpo and Morgan’s injury histories tell us neither can be counted on to make all 16 starts this season.

Orakpo hasn’t missed a game in two seasons in Tennessee. He was, however, sidelined 24 games in the three years prior in Washington. Morgan, meanwhile, has missed seven games in the past two seasons. They also are 30 and 28, respectively. Both are signed through 2018. But Dodd, who turns 25 in July, could be the future.

Players typically make their biggest leap in improvement between Years 1 and 2 in the league. But Dodd’s offseason was a wash because of lingering foot issues.

Training camp will be extremely important for Dodd. And he needs to be on the field. For a player with little college experience, missing more time could be a career killer. Foot injuries also can be especially troublesome. Compounding the issue for the Titans is that they could have taken Noah Spence. Spence was selected right after Dodd and had a solid rookie season for Tampa Bay.

The Titans need Dodd to make a great leap forward. They passed on some other good players to select him at the top of the second round. But he needs to stay on the field to make that move.

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