Former New York Giants GM Ernie Accorsi once said that “you can never have enough pass rushers.” That aphorism has been repeated by just about every executive around the NFL since Accorsi first said it back in 2006.
But the mathematics of NFL defense have changed some over the last two decades, and now it’s also very valid to say “you can never have enough coverage players.” Many modern defensive schemes rely heavily on having five or six defensive backs on the field at the same time. Teams need enough corners to stay healthy throughout the year, match up with potent passing offenses, and allow for exotic blitz schemes. So they need deep and talented cornerback depth charts.
Enter Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich.
Goodrich isn’t among the top cornerbacks in this year’s draft class, and he’s often overshadowed by a more heralded teammate. However, Goodrich has the skill set to be a potential gem if the lands in the right situation.
Prospect: Mario Goodrich (31)
Games Watched: vs. Georgia (2021), vs. North Carolina State (2021), vs. Pittsburgh (2021), vs. Iowa State (2021)
Red Flags: Ankle (2019, surgery in spring of 2020)
Games Played: 31
Tackles For a loss: 0.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 9
Interceptions: 5 (1 touchdown)
Games Played: 11
Tackles For a loss: 0
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes Defensed: 9
Interceptions: 2 (1 touchdown)
Best: Foot quickness, recovery speed, size, versatility, run defense
Worst: Hip fluidity, ball skills
Projection: A developmental corner with rotational or starting upside and scheme versatility
(Goodrich is CB number 31)
Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich has a good combination of size, athleticism, and versatility to play the position at the NFL level.
Goodrich possesses good size at 6-foot, 190 pounds, with enough athleticism to play man or zone coverage at the NFL level. Goodrich typically aligned on the outside on the outside of the Clemson defense, as opposed to the slot. He has enough size to match up against most NFL wide receivers without being overwhelmed or being at a severe size disadvantage. Likewise, he has the athleticism and movement skills to execute most coverage techniques.
Goodrich has experience in press-man, off-man, and zone coverage in Clemson’s sophisticated defensive scheme. He’s an active communicator during the pre-snap phase and shows quick mental processing and discipline after the snap. Goodrich flashes a physical jam at the snap of the ball in press-man, as well as good speed down the field. He is able to keep up with most receivers on vertical routes, or make up ground if he’s initially beaten.
Goodrich has solid awareness and does a good job of keeping his eyes in the backfield when playing zone coverage. He reads the quarterback well and is rarely fooled by misdirection. Likewise, he shows a very quick trigger when it comes time to play downhill. He wastes little time or motion in firing downhill and making stops in the short to intermediate area of the field.
He is also a good run defender for a cornerback. Goodrich flashes good physicality in setting a firm edge on the perimeter and is a willing tackler. Likewise, he has the technique and play strength to make plays off of blockers and doesn’t appear to make “business decisions”.
That said, Goodrich’s aggression and tackling form can be inconsistent. He can be prone to settling for shoulder checks or arm tackles if he doesn’t have a great angle. Likewise, he can occasionally take a “wait and see” approach if his teammates appear to have a ball carrier corralled, as opposed to rallying to the ball himself.
In coverage, Goodrich appears to have some slight stiffness in his hips. Not so much as a safety, but he lacks the great fluidity of top cornerback prospects. His feet can also struggle some when he needs to transition quickly from a backpedal to sprinting downfield, or from a backpedal to driving on the ball. Goodrich also lacks great ball production, with just five interceptions in four years, though his production did improve with more playing time as a senior.
Overall Grade: 7.0
Mario Goodrich will likely begin his NFL career as a developmental cornerback prospect.
He has a lot going for him, and coaches will likely be excited to get their hands on him. He has the versatility to execute a variety of coverage schemes, upside as a run defender, and flashes of impressive aggression. However, he will likely need some time and coaching to iron out the inconsistencies in his game.
How long Goodrich takes as a “developmental” corner, and how quickly he ascends the depth chart, could well depend on his landing spot. The flashes of aggression in his game, and the way his play rose when the rest of the defense was fired up, suggest that playing in an aggressive defense would benefit him at the NFL level. Goodrich also has experience as a blitzing corner, which would fit well with many aggressive schemes in the NFL.
It’s possible that he could force his way onto the field early in his career in the right situation, particularly if an opening arises at the top of the depth chart.
Goodrich appears, generally speaking, to be a good athlete for the position. He has quick feet and good short-area quickness, as well as plenty of long speed down the field. However, some slight stiffness – which can impact his transitions as well as make him a bit “grabby” in tight coverage – might make him struggle in tight press-man coverage against athletic receivers at the NFL level. However, he is good enough in man (with a small cushion), off-man, and zone coverage that he should have enough scheme versatility to offer value for a variety of defenses.
Even if Goodrich isn’t able to force his way onto the field as a starter, he can still provide value as a depth piece or as a rotational player for a defense that relies heavily on nickel or dime subpackages.
Goodrich did suffer an ankle injury early in the 2019 season which “nagged” him throughout the year. He got surgery in the spring of 2020, and teams will want to pay attention to his medical reports.