Clemson’s defense finished the 2017 campaign fourth nationally in total defense allowing only 276.7 yards per game, fifth in sacks with 3.29 per game, and 12th in team tackles-for-loss with 7.8 per game.
A major contributor to the Tigers’ success defensively was graduate linebacker and team leader Dorian O’Daniel. He finished the season with 104 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, six quarterback pressures, and a pair of interceptions for touchdowns.
The fifth-year player earned second team All-America honors form AP and AFCA as well as second-team All-ACC honors. As a co-captain he led the Clemson defense to a third-consecutive College Football Playoff and took the Tigers to another level at the linebacker position.
After a stellar career at the collegiate level O’Daniel has his eyes set on the NFL but an injury in preparation for the senior bowl could have an impact on his draft stock.
According to officials from the Senior Bowl O’Daniel suffered a rib injury preventing him from competing in the game, there has yet to be any more news on how the injury is affecting O’Daniel but it does not seem to be serious.
Prior to the announcement of the injury O’Daniel showed out in practice drills in advance of the game.
Chris Trapasso from CBS Sports was very impressed with the way O’Daniel fared in pass rush drills and how he matched up with running backs and tight ends in pass coverage.
Despite not being able to play in the game scouts still noticed what O’Daniel brought to the table.
O’Daniel told James Harris of Texans TV that he was anxious to prove himself among the nation’s best.
He said he wanted to show scouts not just his ability on the field with his versatility and athleticism but his competitive edge and the energy he brings with him.
O’Daniel has been widely overlooked thus far on big boards and mock drafts but the NFL Scouting Combine will be a big opportunity for him to change the narrative.
Most analysts have him going late second to mid-third round of the draft but there is a tremendous upside for the Clemson graduate.
There is still room for physical growth with O’Daniel weighing in at 225 pounds and six foot-one inch in stature.
With the NFL Scouting Combine just over two months away, on March 2-5, the focus for O’Daniel is getting healthy and recovering from the rib injury so he can show scouts and dissenters what he is truly capable of.