2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Clemson ILB Dorian O’Daniel

From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#6 Dorian O’Daniel/ILB Clemson – 6’0/4 215

The Good

– Tremendous athlete, moves like a safety
– Quick first step and processor, gets to his spot in a hurry
– Sideline-to-sideline range, takes good angles and can close
– Physical player who puts his face in the fan as a tackler, fearless player, closes quickly on the ball
-Versatile, moved all over the front, tons of experience dropping and playing in space out of the box
– Athleticism lets him duck around some blocks in the run game
– Productive senior season, got better every year
– Good experience against excellent competition
– Terrific special teams experience and productivity

The Bad

– Woefully underweight and thin-framed, questionable if he has ability to add and if he does, if he’ll maintain his speed
– Lacks ideal length (31 7/8 inch arms)
– Poor functional strength to hold the POA on drive blocks and underdeveloped hand use to shed, too easily controlled, even by TE/RB
– Doesn’t seem to have a defined role in the NFL, a tweener type who could be limited to just sub-packages
– Needs to do a better job breaking down in space and coming to balance as a tackler, lack of length/strength hurts him
– Struggles when asked to rush off the edge, doesn’t have a go-to move and small frame is easily bullied by bigger/longer tackles


– Two-year starter (27 total)
– Co-captain his senior season
– Career: 205 tackles, 28 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 3 INTs
– 2017: 88 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 INTs (2nd team All-American)
– Had a total of 32 special teams tackles from 2014 to 2015, tied for 1st in team history in career special teams tackles (47)
– Played RB and OLB in high school

Tape Breakdown

O’Daniel is a tough guy to figure out. He’s an uber-athlete the way Ryan Shazier, Telvin Smith, and others were coming out. He’ll blow it up at the Combine, there’s no doubt in my mind about it. But at that size? It’s hard to see an every-down impact in the NFL.

But first, as always, the good. Like I said, great athlete. His RB background is interesting. Makes him a tough, physical player and that shows up on tape. Has sideline-to-sideline range and is going to be one of the most athletic guys in his class. Even in the short time he was at the Senior Bowl before getting hurt, it was clear.

Top-notch instincts too makes him all the more potent. Quick processor with the athleticism to explode and close on the football. When he’s on his game, man he’s fun to watch.

But the biggest problem? Similar to Tremaine Edmunds, he can get man-handled at the line of scrimmage against the run. Too thin of a frame, not enough length to adequately take on blocks from centers and guards who climb to him. Washed out again and again. And unlike Edmunds, O’Daniel is older and his frame probably maxed out. Edmunds has a body he’ll grow into. O’Daniel? I doubt it.

Here, he misses the tackle on the back. Doesn’t have the length or strength to finish the play. Again, another difference than Edmunds, who has super long arms.

So I think you’re looking at some level of a sub-package player. In today’s NFL, that isn’t a death sentence but it does cap his value. Maybe he can be some sort of dime linebacker. Maybe he could make the switch to some sort of hybrid safety-type. I do know he is going to excel on special teams, given his skillset and background, though he has to work on his hand use and block shedding to really become elite there.

His ceiling is medium with a low floor. A good, not great prospect that I take if the value is strong.

Projection: Mid Day Three

Games Watched: at Clemson (2016), at Virginia Tech, vs Alabama, Senior Bowl

Previous 2018 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Sam DarnoldGarret DooleyCalvin RidleyFred WarnerRonald Jones II
Maurice HurstMike McCrayDeShon Elliott Malik JeffersonOgbo Okoronkwo
Trayvon HendersonJosh RosenRonnie HarrisonKallen BallageCedric Wilson Jr.
Micah KiserWill HernandezLeighton Vander EschJosh Allen  Harold Landry
Marquis Haynes Tremaine EdmundsKerryon JohnsonLorenzo Carter Sony Michael
Kyzir White Rashaan Evans Tegray Scales Isaac Yiadom Jeff Holland
 Rashaad PennyJohn KellyBo Scarbrough Roquan Smith Durham Smythe
 Mark Walton Josey Jewell


About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.