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Size, Physicality Give Goodrich Chance

By Dave Holcomb
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Dave Holcomb features Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich.

For the Clemson defensive backfield in the 2022 NFL Draft, all eyes will be on Andrew Booth and whether or not he will continue the school’s recent first-round draft tradition.

But the Tigers have another cornerback in Mario Goodrich who also has the tools to play well at the next level.

Although the best case scenario probably still has Goodrich going on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft, his size and physicality give the Clemson prospect a chance to be an NFL starter.

Goodrich arrived at Clemson as a 4-star prospect, officially listed as an athlete, in the 2018 recruiting class. In fact, the 247Sports Composite rankings rated Goodrich the fourth-best athlete in the class.

The 4-star athlete played both wide receiver and cornerback in high school. But switching full time to defense in college, Goodrich immediately made a contribution in the Clemson secondary as a freshman. He posted six total tackles and three pass breakups to help the Tigers go 15-0 and win the National Championship.

Goodrich slowly increased his playing time over his four seasons with the Tigers. Last fall, he was one of the biggest playmakers for the Clemson defense, posting 43 total tackles and two interceptions. He also had 10 pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.

He made 69 total tackles in four seasons at Clemson. In 2021, Goodrich’s 43 total tackles led all Clemson cornerbacks.

In addition to his physicality against the run, Goodrich is “scrappy” in pass coverage. His six-foot frame and willingness to engage as a tackler should be quite attractive to NFL teams.

“He diagnoses the run well, routinely takes good angles, arrives on the scene in a hurry, and showcases excellent tackling form,” NFL draft analyst Oliver Hodgkinson wrote. “Although he isn’t the most powerful player, Goodrich is impressively physical. This is apparent in his run support ability.”

However, Goodrich is not particularly fast. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds at the 2022 NFL Combine.

Due to the lack of speed both NFL analyst Lance Zierlein of and NFL scout Cory Giddings of Bleacher Report wrote Goodrich will be better suited for a zone scheme.

“He has size and play physical brand of coverage but might be tethered to a zone scheme due to a lack of desired chase speed,” wrote Zierlein.

“He also has the length to help play the passing lanes, but he’s more likely to tackle the catch than play the football.”

Giddings was also critical of Goodrich’s man-to-man coverage.

“Goodrich’s lack of speed downfield and subpar man-coverage skills are the kryptonite in his pass coverage game,” Giddings wrote. “Because of this, he would best fit a zone scheme where he will be given help over the top and be allowed to play routes with eyes on the quarterback.”

Zierlein projects Goodrich to most likely carve out a role in the NFL as a backup safety. But Giddings has more faith in the Clemson cornerback landing with a defense that plays a zone scheme, giving Goodrich an opportunity to compete for a starting job.

The fact Goodrich needs to fit a specific role to excel in the NFL hurts his overall draft stock. The draft scouts at ESPN ranked him as the No. 214 overall player in the 2022 draft class.

Essentially, that means ESPN predicts Goodrich to be a late sixth-round selection.

Giddings holds the cornerback in higher regard, labeling him as a fourth-round pick.

But when Goodrich goes on Day 3 isn’t as important as where. As is the case with a lot of later draft picks, if Goodrich lands with an organization that utilizes his best traits, then he has the potential to experience a successful NFL career.