This time, we'll be taking a look at the speed merchant linebacker that the Titans drafted with the last pick in the third round named Zaviar Gooden.
Player name: Zaviar Gooden
Height/Weight: 6'1 234
School/Class: Missouri, Redshirt Senior
Position: Outside Linebacker
Measurables: 4.46 40, 27 bench reps, 38.5" vertical jump, 10'11" broad jump, 6.71 3 cone drill
Workout with Titans?: NO
- Speed demon - Gooden is a speed merchant that converted to linebacker after playing safety in high school. He posted a 4.47 40 at the Combine. He fits well as a Zach Brown type of linebacker that can run all day.
- Natural agility and quickness - The agility and quickness doesn't look forced and is second nature to him, allowing rapid advance to the ball once it has been sighted. Converting to linebacker may have unearthed a gem.
- Doesn't get lost in the wash easily - Despite his size or the lack of it, he finds the ball on a routine basis while taking on much bigger blockers.
- Experienced the rigors of major D-1 play - Gooden is well versed in the play of two different conferences of offensive philosophy. While Missouri was in the Big 12, he got to experience the high powered spread option passing attacks that includes the likes of Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. After the change in conferences, he got valuable experience in the more traditional SEC ground and pound offense with the likes of Alabama and Georgia on the schedule. This education in both schools of thought should serve him well learning the complex NFL systems.
- How good are the actual "football" skills? - We all know and are in amazement over his "wow" workout numbers but how does that translate to the field? Is he too small to play linebacker on a heavy snap count? Is he relegated to special teams duty because of it? It will be interesting to find out this coming year.
The Gooden pick was the right value given his projections as an early to middle fourth round candidate but I'm a little wary of taking a workout warrior even if he's accomplished what he has in his college career. It's certainly possible that he enjoys a surprisingly sensational rookie campaign that teammate Zach Brown did. I see him making the team as a special teams ace at first then being phased into the defense eventually. I also see him bumping long time special teams captain and fellow backup linebacker Tim Shaw off the roster. The team properly addressed the backup linebacker position after watching Shaw and Patrick Bailey to an certain extent, repeatedly get abused and turned around when forced into the lineup. Gooden could be used as a less regimented, go run around and make a play freelance outside linebacker in certain (pass rush) situations. He certainly has the natural speed and agility to do it, only needing more refinement in the more technical aspects of the game.