Among the prospects interviewed by the Denver Broncos during the week of the Senior Bowl, was an Outside Linebacker by the name of Zaviar Gooden. A 3-year Letterman out of Missouri, Gooden goes 6’2" and 233 lbs. He is ranked #11 out of 263 Outside Linebacker prospects and 110th overall for the 2013 NFL Draft. His pre-Combine 40 Time is listed as 4.49 seconds. Zaviar is projected as a late 3rd to early 4th round draft pick. He also drew interest from the Chiefs, Chargers and Saints at the Senior Bowl.
Zaviar Gooden #25
Graduated with a degree in Business Administration
• 2012 - Team Captain
• 2012 - Mizzou Graduate (May)
• 2010 - Honorable Mention All-Big 12
• 2009 - 1st-Team Academic All-Big 12
One of the more athletic specimens to ever play the linebacker position at Mizzou, Gooden finished his Tiger career totaling 256 Tackles, 20.5 Tackles For Loss, 4 Sacks, 16 Pass Breakups, 5 Interceptions including a "Pick Six", 2 Forced Fumbles and one Fumble Recovery.
Zaviar’s Senior campaign (2012) wasn’t his best statistically, but a hamstring injury in the 2nd week vs Georgia bothered him for most of the season and even caused him to miss two games. He amassed 61 Tackles, 4 TFL’s and a 20 yard Interception return for a Touchdown.
In 2011, Gooden had a solid season, starting all 13 games at the WLB spot and ranking 3rd on the team with 80 Tackles. He also added 6 TFL’s, 1 Sack, 6 Pass Breakups and 2 Interceptions. Zaviar led all Tigers with nine Tackles against Arizona State in week two, recorded his first sack of the season, dropping Brock Osweiler for a loss of three yards in the final two minutes and blocked an Arizona State extra point in the 2nd quarter. That earned earned him the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.
The 2010 season saw Gooden emerge as one of the top playmakers for the Tiger defense. He led the team with 85 Tackles in his first year as a starter, playing on a unit which was one of the most improved defenses in the nation. Zaviar was very consistent throughout the season, as he had no less than 5 Tackles in every game against FBS competition. He accounted for 5 Turnovers in all, including 2 Recovered Fumbles, 2 Interceptions and 1 Forced Fumble while notching 7.5 Tackles For Loss and 3 Quarterback Sacks in all. He also had 7 Pass Breakups and 2 Picks.
In 2009, Zaviar saw his first action as a Tiger after moving down to the Linebackers over the summer after spending the spring at his traditional safety position. He played in all 13 games and really started to hit his stride toward the latter part of the season, as he had three or more tackles in six of MU's last seven ballgames. Gooden finished with 30 tackles on the year, including 3 Tackles For Loss, one Pass Breakup, one Forced Fumble and one Fumble Recovery a fumble.
(2008) Redshirt year. Worked hard as part of the Tiger defensive scout team.
NFL.COM DRAFT GEade-70.0
STRENGTHS: At 6-2 and 233 pounds, Gooden possesses a lean, athletic-looking frame and ideal build to play the weak side at the next level. When active with his hands, Zaviar exhibits quickness and pop to routinely disengage. Has a fluid drop in coverage and quick hips to turn and run with the Tight End or Slot Receiver vertically. He will Attacks quickly when he gets a clear picture and closes in a hurry to attack plays in the backfield.
Gooden can take on blocks from Tight Ends and Fullbacks, stays moving to the ball while engaged and sheds to make the play. Gets under their shoulder to get leverage and contain. Extremely explosive in a straight line, exhibiting a strong initial burst and elite vertical speed for the position. A solid open field tackler with an aggressive attitude to bring the ball carrier to the ground. Utilizes his speed to hustle downfield regularly. He’ll contribute heavily on Special Teams coverage units.
WEAKNESSES: Possesses only average overall size. His aggressiveness can take him out of plays on occasion, as he’ll head into the backfield as running backs run past through the hole. He hasn’t been used as a pass rusher often, and doesn’t win hand battles at the line with linemen and running backs. Late to diagnose the run at times. Will take shallow angles on runs to the outside, and will often find himself forced to chase the play down from behind as a result.
In coverage, he's still a bit raw, at times flipping his hips in the wrong direction while anticipating routes. Better in man-coverage than zone right now, as he tends to lock onto the backfield and lose track of receivers in the area.Not a schematically diverse player, will be limited to just the weakside linebacker spot for 4-3 teams.
NFL COMPARISON: Justin Durant (Lions), Zach Brown (Titans), Sean Weatherspoon (Falcons)
Gooden is viewed by those close to the program as the Tigers' most unique athlete. The 6-2, 230-pound outside linebacker has reportedly been clocked in the 4.4s in the 40. He was originally recruited as a safety and redshirted in 2008 playing at this position. He made the move to outside linebacker in 2009 and served as a quality backup, registering 30 tackles, including three for loss, while playing in all 13 games.
Zaviar impressed in 2010 during his first season as a starter, recording career-highs in tackles (85), tackles for loss (10) and sacks (three). His numbers slipped slightly this past season (80-eight-one) and he hasn't yet shown a knack for consistently making big plays, which is why he isn't more nationally recognized.
From Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country:
Projecting Gooden's NFL position is a bit tricky, as he seemed to play all three linebacker positions in the Missouri defense, but more often than not playing either the WILL or SAM linebacker spot. He does a nice job playing downhill as a linebacker, often filling the gap he needs to fill and does a nice job playing contain when he's on the backside of a play. The biggest concern with Gooden is playing "in control". He doesn't really have a knack for being a playmaker, but he shows flashes of the ability to do so and can get caught trying to force plays that aren't there by going for a tough interception or trying to lay a big hit. When Gooden plays within his ability and with discipline, the plays come naturally to him. It's when he tries to force them he finds himself in trouble.
Gooden is also adequate in zone coverage, being a former safety knowing when to engage and release a zone. He does a solid job of turning and running with tight ends, but seems to be best in zone coverage with the play in front of him. He has the athleticism and speed to be the type of defender who can cut routes off and intercept passes once he feels more comfortable in his position. He's still learning the nuances of the position, but seems to be a potential starter even as a rookie.
One of Gooden’s biggest strengths is his great coverage ability, especially when matched up man to man on a receiver. He is fast enough to cover athletic tight ends down field, and shifty enough to handle agile backs underneath. His main weakness is against the run, specifically power schemes. While his athleticism shined when scraping over or sifting through the wash to make a tackle.
Overall, Gooden is an unfinished product. He has the athleticism to be a great Will linebacker in a 4-3 or a Mo linebacker in a 3-4, but considering his skillset is more coverage-based, I believe he could be used in a hybrid safety/linebacker type of role player that specifically handles notorious mismatches like Vernon Davis, Aaron Hernandez, and C.J. Spiller or as a spy for mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton and RG3.
Zaviar Gooden vs Syracuse (2012)
Zaviar Gooden vs Georgia (2012)
2013 NFL Draft Profile: Missouri - Zaviar Gooden
A Safety in a Linebackers body, Zaviar Gooden is built exactly how Broncos head coach John Fox likes. MU felt compelled to move Gooden to a different position as he kept putting on weight without any loss of mobility. Or as Tiger linebacker coach Barry Odom put it, "He just kept getting a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger."
I don’t know if Gooden can add anymore weight to his frame, but if Denver is looking at this kid, they are searching for that "Tight End Killer" that Rodney has been calling for and that they really require to go further into the postseason. Or, it could mean they are looking to replace DJ Williams with their 3rd round draft pick. Zaviar is an intriguing prospect, especially when a guy like Wesley Woodyard is already on the roster.
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