Height: 6’1 1/2
40 Time: 4.47
Wingspan: 76 1/4
Projected Draft Position: Late 3rd – 4th Round
Before enrolling at Missouri, Gooden was a standout safety (rated No. 32 in the nation by Rivals) and running back prospect coming out of high school in Texas. After serving as part of the scout team in 2008, Gooden switched to linebacker in the summer of 2009 and saw action in that same season.
Built like a rock at just under 6’2″ and 233 pounds, Gooden is a natural athlete with a growing feel for the game. He has the speed to complement the strength and he has the instincts to go along with his movement on the field. Still, Gooden will need to bulk up at the next level if teams see him playing inside a 3-4 scheme.
Not only as an athlete, but Gooden’s balance in his actual game is impressive too. Against the run,Gooden demonstrates decent play recognition and can strike down to fill the gap. Play fakes, on the other hand, can often times land him out of position and he’ll need to correct that.
You have to appreciate a young man that likes to get after it. That looks like he loves to play.Gooden’s motor encourages him to take on blockers and his strength helps him do a good job of shedding. He also has good lateral speed and can go sideline to sideline in a hurry.
Despite his physique, and considering the reputation of the position, Gooden isn’t going to showcase as a big hitter. Although he’s typically sound in his form and angle when tackling, Gooden appears to need an entire body to bring his opponent down. For a specimen like him, you’d like to see a little more tenacity.
Likely stemming from his prep days as a safety, Gooden looks comfortable in coverage and he can easily stick with tight ends. He has good acceleration that doesn’t keep him far behind potential receivers from the line and he mirrors them pretty well.
While I wouldn’t consider Gooden a pass rusher at the next level, he does have the tools to become an effective blitzer. His speed and pursuit can sometimes make him a slippery block through the line and he can get to the backfield in a hurry. Depending on his next system, Gooden should improve in this aspect.
In the NFL, Gooden would best fit on the outside in a 4-3, but I like him as a 3-4 ILB. Gooden has the coverage skills to drop back while the rushers do their job on the outside, his speed and instincts make him reliable against the run and his ability to rush the passer packs potential.
Important to note, Gooden also served as a team captain during his senior season and was named First-Team Academic All Big-XII during the 2009 season. He did miss two games (nearly three) last year with a bad hamstring, but Gooden has been durable over the course of his college career.
It’s safe to say Gooden is another one of my crushes in this draft class.