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2019 Broncos roster review: Edge rusher Ahmad Gooden

Ahmad Gooden was a productive pass rusher at Samford but can he crack the 53-man roster?

NCAA Football: Samford at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

After the 2019 NFL Draft concluded, the Denver Broncos agreed to terms with multiple undrafted free agents. One of those prospects that they signed was former Samford passing rushing star, Ahmad Gooden.

Now Gooden will look to earn himself a roster spot on a Broncos squad that is lacking depth at edge rusher.

Ahmad Gooden Profile

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 245 pounds | 40-time: 4.93 seconds

Arm length: 32 1/2” | Hands: 8 3/4”

Bench press: 16 reps | Vertical jump: 31 1/2” | Broad jump: 108 inches

20 Yard shuttle: 4.76 seconds | 3-Cone drill: 7.60 seconds

Ahmad Gooden had himself a productive four-year career at Samford where he was a consistent pass rusher for their defense. During his four-year career there, Gooden totaled 274 tackles, 53 tackles for a loss, 23 sacks, and 40 quarterback hits. This past season, he totaled 50 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, and 12 quarterback hits.

Now he will look to repeat that type of production with the Broncos this summer as he looks to earn himself a roster spot or a spot on the teams 10-man Practice Squad.

He will join a Broncos pass rushing unit that is very strong at the top with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb as your starters. However, the depth behind those two was weakened this winter when Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray left via Free Agency. That leaves 2018 UDFA Jeff Holland, 2019 rookie Justin Hollins, veteran Dekoda Watson, and fellow 2019 UDFA Malik Reed fighting for those final two or three spots.

Gooden faces steep odds to crack the 53-man roster, but a strong performance during the Training Camp and the Preseason could help him earn a spot on the teams 10-man Practice Squad.

The good

Well, the lack of depth behind starters Von Miller and Bradley Chubb is really lacking. You have a bunch of inexperience(Holland, Hollins, and Reed) and someone who is known for their special teams ability(Watson) so there is certainly a chance for Gooden to make a name for himself this summer.

Now his athleticism is lacking, however, his production is not. While he did not produce high sack numbers, he was a very productive player at Samford.

According to Pro Football Focus, Gooden had the highest pressure rate among all draft-eligible pass rushers since 2017. He pressured the quarterback 25% of the time on pass rushing down. This is nearly 5% higher than what the second overall pick Nick Bosa did while at Ohio State. So while he fails at his athletic testing skills, his production and ability on tape stand out.

He will need to show off this pass rushing ability during Training Camp if he wants to fight for a spot on the 53-man roster or the 10-man Practice Squad.

In an interview with the Draft Wire prior to the draft, Gooden called himself “versatile” and said he is willing to do whatever the team wants him to do.

Versatile. I say I do whatever coach tells me but whatever the coach needs or whatever the defense needs or whatever the game needs, I’ll do it. Rush the passer, cover, just try to be an impact player wherever the situation may be from stopping the run, tackle for loss, big sack, whatever. I live for those type of moments and those type of games.

This is a great mentality to have for an undrafted free agent likely on the outside looking in when it comes to a roster spot. He will need to prove he can help in the pass rush department, as a run stopper, and most importantly, on special teams. If he does that, it will help himself earn a future with the Broncos.

The bad

As I have stated prior, Gooden is really limited when it comes to his athleticism. He’s slower than you want, lacks explosiveness and suddenness, and relies on his strength and motor to get to the passer. That worked against lesser competition in college, but will it work in the NFL?

Now while the depth behind Von and Chubb is lacking and it is a wide-open competition on paper behind those two, Gooden is likely the least likely of the group to stick around.

Jeff Holland looked solid in limited action last season for the Broncos and is likely to be a reserve pass rusher for Vic Fangio’s defense. The Broncos also spent a fifth-round pick on the high-upside and athletic Justin Hollins. I get that a fifth rounder isn’t a lock to make the team, but his skill set and plus athleticism/length likely have him as a near lock. Plus he may even see some action at inside linebacker so that is two young guys likely at edge rusher. You have Dekoda Watson who might be your special teams captain who also plays some edge rusher taking a spot as well. So you really do not have much room for Gooden. I haven’t even mentioned fellow UDFA rookie Malik Reed who I also see pushing for a roster spot.

So in short, it will be a tough hill to climb for Gooden to make the 53-man roster. A practice squad spot? Maybe, but his lack of athleticism could come back to bit him in the NFL this summer.


Ahmad Gooden on who he models his game after via the Draft Wire.

“I like Khalil Mack. I’ve been watching him since his second or third year, especially when he was with the Raiders and he was really humming. When I kind of knew that I was gonna be good at end, I started modeling my game after him. He’s a little bit taller than me but around the same weight and same size so some moves I take from him and try to add my own little twist to it.”

Ahmad Gooden Highlights

Ahmad Gooden’s roster status with the Broncos

It is hard not to root for someone like Gooden, but I have a hard time seeing him finding a spot on the Broncos moving forward.

Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Dekoda Watson, Jeff Holland, and Justin Hollins are likely your five edge rushers(barring injury) with Malik Reed also making the team or taking a spot on the 10-man practice squad. Maybe he does enough to also earn himself a practice squad spot which is certainly possible, but I would be surprised.

You have an undrafted small school guy who is a little undersized who also lacks athleticism trying to make a team in the NFL. That combination usually doesn’t work in the players’ favor, but I will be rooting for Gooden this summer.