A GIANT PROBLEM
The Giants ranked last on overall defense in the league last year. Part of that defensive failure was based on the fact that they could not find consistency at the middle linebacker position. When Jon Beason succumbed to injury, the team turned to undrafted free agent Uani ‘Unga and then finally to Jasper Brinkley.
In the off-season, they decided to shore up the middle linebacker position by adding players in both free agency and the Draft. One of their day-three selections was particularly interesting. Though not the most touted defensive player to come from Clemson this year (that honor would likely belong to Shaq Lawson), B.J. Goodson’s resume is impressive. In his junior year, he not only was voted a team captain, but exploded for 59 tackles and 49 assists. 14 of those tackles were for loss. He also contributed five and a half sacks, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.
Goodson had a strong showing at the NFL Combine, nearing the top output at his position in nearly every drill and leading the linebacker group on the bench press by putting up 30 reps. Goodson has a solid frame, one that will help him to hold up in the middle at the NFL level. He is very quick to diagnose the play and flow to the ball. Also, he’s outstanding at taking on blockers, stacking and shedding to make a tackle. When wrapping up a ball carrier, Goodson demonstrates sound, explosive tackling technique and rarely misses. He relishes playing the downhill, physical run-stuffer role. Goodson was the play caller on the Tigers defense, something that further demonstrates his leadership abilities on the field.
One thing working in Goodson’s favor is that there is opportunity on his depth chart. An oft-injured former Redskin Keenan Robinson is currently competing with journeyman veteran Jasper Brinkley. While impractical to predict a day-three rookie to beat out the two this year, projecting Goodson to do so in 2017 is not a long shot.
Goodson’s issues are glaring and explain why the NFL valued him as a day-three prospect. Goodson is not quite as athletic as some of the other linebackers from this class. He doesn’t change direction especially well and is a bit stiff in his playing style. Additionally, his pursuit speed is questionable. While Goodson has been asked to cover, he lacks the fluidity to backpedal and then flip his hips to run with his target. Dropping him into coverage is also not a good idea because he does not demonstrate the speed to recover if beaten.
Goodson is a sound tackler and an ideal run defender.
He has the smarts to be the play caller for his defense.
The depth chart ahead of Goodson is shaky.
Goodson is not as athletic as a prototypical NFL middle linebacker.
He is not likely to earn a starting spot in 2016.
Goodson may be limited to two-down work because of his questionable coverage ability.
The Giants MLB job is traditionally very productive, particularly in tackle-heavy formats. If Keenan Robinson can stay healthy, the Giants probably won’t extensively play Goodson this year. However, if injury strikes Robinson once again, Goodson can probably give Brinkley a run for his money on taking the job. Goodson is being selected in the mid-sixth round of mixed rookie drafts, making him a watch list player in shallower leagues and a stash player in deeper formats.
Note: Neither IDP staffer John Norton or Aaron Rudnicki projected Goodson for 2016 production.
Jon Ledyard of USA Today’s Draftwire is really intrigued by Goodson:
He’s passionate, smart, and one of the surest tacklers in the draft. You know Goodson will bring it on every down, and has the physical ability to take it to linemen in the box and make stops. That is a lost art in today’s day and age of undersized, keep-me-clean linebackers, and Goodson doesn’t sacrifice as much as you’d think in the athleticism department either. He may never be an All-Pro, but Goodson can be a solid starting inside linebacker in 4-3 or 3-4 fronts at the next level, with the ability to stay on the field for three downs and make an impact.
Sam Beckenstein of NFLMocks.com expressed doubts about Goodson in his scounting report:
Goodson flashed brilliance at times last season, and showed he could be a great run stopper, but needs to improve in his pass defense if he wants a real shot. He is worth a middle round selection, and could be a solid producer as a two-down linebacker instantly. But in order to make it long term he needs to improve on coverage skills and not biting on play action.
In his CBS scouting report, Dane Brugler stated he believes that there is hope for Goodson to push for a starting job in a year or two:
A one-year starter, Goodson showed promise as a part-time player as a junior before earning the starting middle linebacker job as a senior, evolving into a draftable prospect. He is a magnet to the ball in the run game with the take-on skills to stack the point of attack, using his strong hands and low pad level to shed and find the ball carrier. Goodson is a balanced athlete and limits his wasted motion, but his range is based more on his instincts, lacking ideal play speed and explosive traits for the position. Although not a dynamic mover, which especially shows in coverage, Goodson plays a physical brand of football and always seems to be in the vicinity - quality depth player, who will push for starting reps by year two.