March 19, 2018

SOTT Draft Profile: Zaviar Gooden

At the Senior Bowl there was word that the Houston Texans were highly interested in Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden. Gooden was named the best linebacker at the Senior Bowl by NFL Scouts and Executives, which is a good honor coming out of Mobile with all of the NFL talent at the game.

We talked to Adam Cribbs from Rock M Nation, a SB Nation blog dedicated to the Missouri Tigers, and we asked him about the talented linebacker.


Tale of the Tape:

Height: 6-2

Weight: 230 lbs.

Position: Linebacker

Class: Senior

Can you give us a background how Gooden got to Missouri? 

Zaviar was actually recruited as a Rivals three-star safety coming out of Pflugerville, Texas in 2008. He weighed less than 200 pounds as a senior in high school, but he ran the 40 in an impressive 4.4 seconds, which turned the heads of some college recruiters. He chose to come to Mizzou over OU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Stanford, and quite a few other schools. He was recruited by Missouri’s Brian Jones, and was blown away by the facilities and family atmosphere here at Mizzou. Even after visiting OU as his last stop, he decided Missouri was the place for him.


What did Gooden mean to the Missouri football program? 

Gooden was known as not only the most athletic player on the entire Tigers roster, but also one of the hardest workers. In his first collegiate football season in 2008, he was a part of Mizzou’s defensive scout team, and was twice named the defense’s Backup Player of the Week (yes, that’s an award here at Missouri) for his hard work in preparation for the games against Oklahoma State and Kansas. In 2009, he had gained enough muscle that the coaches wanted to move him to linebacker, where he saw action in all of Mizzou’s 13 games that season. He posted 30 tackles on the season in limited playing time, but what was even more impressive was he made the Big 12’s All Academic Team. People were beginning to realize that not only could this kid become a freak athlete, he was also pretty dang smart too. In 2010 was when he really started to mean something to the program, as he took a starting position at the weakside LB position. He was an instant standout, as he lead the team with 85 tackles and even posted two interceptions, one of which was in one of Missouri’s biggest wins ever over #1 Oklahoma. He continued his solid play in 2011, putting up 80 tackles and a sack. 2012 was a big of a rough season for him as he was battling a hamstring all year, but when he was in the game he was still an impact player. He only played in 10 games last season but still racked up 61 tackles. The guy was just a machine, and was consistently a stronghold for the Mizzou defense.


Gooden played on the inside of the Tigers defense, do you see that being his position in the NFL or can he be an edge player?

 Gooden spent most of his time as WLB in Mizzou’s 4-3 defense, so he had a little freedom to roam and let the play come to him. Even with his speed he isn’t much of a pass rusher, so I see him probably continuing to be more of a 4-3 linebacker in the NFL.


What are some of his strengths? 

Like I’ve stated multiple times before, his greatest asset is his pure athleticism. He’s 6’2″, weighs 232 LBs, and runs the 40 as fast as 4.38 seconds. Very solid tackler, rarely misses his target. He’s pretty decent in pass coverage, and uses his speed to close on the ball when he does give up a completion. He does a fantastic job shedding his blockers and flying to the ballcarrier. Rarely was there a running play against Mizzou’s defense in which Gooden wasn’t at least within a couple yards of the tackle. This always sounds so cliche to me, but really does have a great motor. You’ll never see him quit on a play, even if the runner is 20 yards downfield. He can hit the hole and close up running lanes pretty quickly, and because of his speed does a great job of stretching the play to the sideline. Aside from his physical strengths, he’s an extremely intelligent person, graduating with a Business Administration degree from MU and earning Academic All Conference honors multiple times. He’s also very involved in some of the church programs around Columbia (where MU is located) and has never been in the news for negative behavior. You know you’re getting an athletic, hard-working, strong character player with Zaviar Gooden.


What are some of his weaknesses?

 Well, we talked about his speed and how he uses it to his advantage a lot already, but he also uses it against himself from time to time. When he does struggle in pass coverage it’s because of over pursuit of the player he’s covering, so he sometimes had trouble covering in the flats and defending screen plays. He’s not a very overpowering player, you won’t see him bullrushing an offensive lineman to get to the QB. He isn’t a great pressure player as I’ve stated before, as he rarely got to the QB as a collegiate linebacker, but that really wasn’t his role in college so maybe that could change in the NFL, who knows.


How do you project Gooden at the next level?

I see him going in rounds 3-5, and probably playing special teams and assuming a backup position his first couple seasons. He’s athletic enough to eventually earn a starting role, and his upside is through the roof. If I had to guess how his entire NFL career pans out, I’d say he probably won’t end up as a Pro Bowl type of player, but a consistent, solid tackling linebacker that coaches will love and want to keep around. But hey, I’m no NFL scout, maybe this dude ends up being the next London Fletcher.


You can follow Adam on twitter for all things related to the Missouri Tigers. 



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