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:
Weight: 230 lbs.
Can you give us a background how Gooden got to Missouri?
What did Gooden mean to the Missouri football program?
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.