Kevin Dodd: Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson’s First Bust

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11: Kevin Dodd /

Kevin Dodd has been unceremoniously released from the Tennessee Titans, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of fans everywhere.

In a move that surprised approximately nobody, Kevin Dodd was released this afternoon. A former 33rd overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, Tennessee Titans decision makers no doubt had a lot more in mind for the young edge rusher than two lackluster seasons with only 12 tackles and one sack. After Dodd failed to report to training camp this offseason, the writing was on the wall, and his career with the Titans came to an abrupt end.

Coming out of Clemson, Dodd was considered by some to be a late first round selection or an early second rounder at worst. The lengthy defensive end had an extremely productive senior season opposite 2016 first rounder Shaq Lawson, with high sack and tackle-for-loss totals. His NFL-ready frame and athletic ability only lent credence to the theory that he would continue to succeed outside of a talented Clemson defense and was not merely a flash in the pan.’s Lance Zierlein had this to say about the young defensive end:

"The arrow is pointed up for Dodd who finished the season with a streak of five consecutive games with a sack. Dodd already looks the part of an NFL defensive end and his desire to make plays coupled with his physical traits and talent should have him shooting up draft boards. His lack of college snaps could preclude him from being “pro­ ready”, but his instincts and football intelligence should expedite the learning process."

Unfortunately, for the Titans and Dodd, it was not a lack of experience that derailed the young defensive end’s career, but rather a myriad of other factors, some of which Dodd could control and others of which were out of his hands. Right out of the gate, Dodd suffered a foot injury in his rookie season that sidelined him and required two surgeries to get healthy again for 2017.

Heading into Dodd’s sophomore season, fans were eager to see Dodd get back on track and develop into the team’s next big pass rusher. However, Dodd rarely saw the field in 2017. Mike Mularkey and staff tried to move Dodd to OLB, where he appeared lost and ineffective most of the time. For Dodd, playing at OLB in 2017 was less “Outside Linebacker” and more “Outer Left Bench”, as he struggled to earn playing time.

Though Dodd’s natural position may have been at DE rather than OLB, a player with his level of talent should not have struggled to that extent, which calls into question how his injuries and the long road to recovery affected Dodd mentally. Only he knows, but Dodd was clearly not the “instinctive” and “intelligent” player that college football fans saw at Clemson in 2015.

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In 2018, Dodd needed to make a statement to cement his spot on the roster and show the new coaching staff that he was ready to turn a corner. Instead, Dodd appeared to lose his competitive fire and drive. He failed to report to voluntary OTAs, which is already a red flag for a young player with something to prove. However, the Titans still held out hope that he would show up a changed man for training camp. When he did not report on the 23rd of July, all hope was lost, and Dodd received his walking papers shortly thereafter.

Dodd had an opportunity to make a statement in 2018 to the football world and fans everywhere. He had the opportunity to take a step forward and develop into the edge rusher that Tennessee thought it was getting when they selected him 33rd overall in 2016. Instead, rather than making a statement himself, Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel made Dodd into a statement by releasing him.

No longer can a player expect to hold down a spot on this Titans roster based on talent alone. Vrabel and Robinson have created a new culture in this locker room that demands hard work, accountability and drive, which Dodd simply could not conform to. Kevin Dodd could have been the team’s next great pass rusher that terrorized AFC South quarterbacks for years, but unfortunately, that’s all he’ll ever be: a story of what could have been.

Next: Titans Who Benefit From Dodd's Departure