NFL Scouting Combine Preview: Dorian O'Daniel


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O'Daniel is a linebacker who can cover receivers or support the run game
O'Daniel is a linebacker who can cover receivers or support the run game

The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine begins this week, and five former Clemson players are a part of the proceedings. This year's event, taking place in Indianapolis, will begin on Feb. 27th, and will conclude on March 5th.

Wide receiver Deon Cain, guard Taylor Hearn, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, safety Van Smith and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel will all take part in the combine. The offensive linemen will have on-field workouts Friday, the wide receivers will work out Saturday, the linebackers will work out Sunday and the defensive backs on Monday.

NFL.com wrote an analysis on each player and here is what they had to say about Dorian O’Daniel.

OVERVIEW

Athletic linebackers like O'Daniel are earning high marks from NFL scouts because they need to cover the middle of the field in passing situations. ACC coaches recognized O'Daniel's talent in 2017, naming him second-team all-conference after he led the Tigers with 103 tackles, including 11.5 for loss and five sacks, as well as three pass breakups in 14 starts. One of the top outside linebacker recruits in the nation after an excellent high school career in the Washington, D.C. metro area (all-state in Maryland with 1,307 rushing yards, 18 touchdowns as senior, 16.5 tackles for loss, five sacks as junior). O'Daniel redshirted in 2013, and then got into the action regularly as a freshman, starting once and leading the team with 13 special teams tackles (had 31 total stops, sack) in 12 games played. He once again paced the team with 19 special teams stops in 2015, and was credited with 32 total tackles in 15 games as a reserve. Given a chance to play more on defense as a junior (10 starts in 15 games), O'Daniel used his quickness and tenacious nature to make 60 stops, 10 for loss, and 2.5 sacks.

ANALYSIS

STRENGTHS: Madman on special teams. Finished career with 48 special teams tackles and most of them in kick coverage. Has a gift for playing past kick return blocks and maintaining focus on the returner. Technically sound as tackler. Sees what he hits and drives upper body into target while wrapping to finish. Possesses agility for lateral tackles against cutback runs. Hustles to contain against perimeter runs. Offers versatility. Played near the line and matched up on slot targets. Redirects routes with force. Reads and squeezes from zone. Finished 2017 with seven passes defensed including two pick-six interceptions.

WEAKNESSES: Just one season as starter. Has the frame of a big safety, but is an average athlete in space. Is a little sluggish in his directional change and needs a runway to get accelerate to top speed. Pursuit speed is below par. Often blocked by smaller slot players against spread rushing attacks. Needs to prove he can beat blocks near the line of scrimmage on next level. Gives up separation when matched in man coverage. Plays upright and needs to do better job of anticipating routes.

DRAFT PROJECTION: Round 6

SOURCES TELL US: "His special teams production is really rare. He has a feel for navigating around the traffic and finding the football. He might get drafted and make a team just on his special teams ability alone." -- NFC regional scout

NFL COMPARISON: Julian Stanford

BOTTOM LINE: Just one season as starter. Has the frame of a big safety, but is an average athlete in space. Is a little sluggish in his directional change and needs a runway to accelerate to top speed. Pursuit speed is below par. Often blocked by smaller slot players against spread rushing attacks. Needs to prove he can beat blocks near the line of scrimmage on next level. Gives up separation when matched in man coverage. Plays upright and needs to do better job of anticipating routes. What O'Daniel lacks in size and speed at the linebacker spot, he makes up for with production and consistency. He may not have the tools to become a quality full-time starter at linebacker, but his outstanding career as a special teams cover talent could be enough to earn him a roster spot and a place in the league for years to come.

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