Today’s NFL puts a premium on versatile defensive linemen who can make plays no matter where they line up. If your favorite team is looking for that kind of player in the 2021 NFL Draft, former Iowa EDGE Chauncey Golston is the player for the job.
Golston spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his versatility, how Iowa helped prepare him for the NFL, and what kind of player he’ll be at the next level.
JM: You capped off an impressive career with another strong season in 2020. How do you look back on your time at Iowa?
CG: I look back on it and say I made the best decision for myself. I’m really appreciative of the opportunity they gave me. I created so many special bonds in my five years at Iowa.
JM: You got better every single year. There’s no denying that. The tape got better and so did the numbers. You recorded 5.5 sacks in just eight games in 2020. Imagine what the sack total would have been had you played 10-12 games. What do you credit that steady improvement to?
CG: That’s how things happen for you at Iowa. Iowa is known for traditionally bringing in guys that were underrecruited. Iowa understands how to develop players into the guys you see today. We all tend to have career years in our fourth or fifth year. I came in with the mindset every single day that I was ready to work. I always tried to improve. I’m honest about what I see on film. I like to identify areas for improvement on tape.
JM: I was gonna ask you about that. It’s like there’s something in the water down there in Iowa. Players that attend Iowa always develop and get better.
CG: It’s all about the coaching staff. Coach [Kirk] Ferentz has been doing this for a long time. He sets the standard. As a young guy coming into the program, most guys come in underweight. The staff knows that you’re not ready to produce. Once you buy into the culture, it’s bound to happen. You have to come ready to work.
JM: I want to talk about your work with your position coach Kelvin Bell. He has some NFL experience and he’s coached a couple of good defensive lineman at Iowa in Daviyon Nixon and A.J. Epenesa in addition to yourself. How did he help you elevate your game?
CG: When I think about coach Bell, I think about how he got promoted to defensive line coach in 2019 and I played my best football under him. Coach Bell always preaches attention to detail, all-out effort, and self-evaluation when you’re watching film. He always asked us what we were doing when we’re not together. Are you putting in extra work? He taught me so much over the years. He made me a better player.
JM: I’m curious where you see yourself playing at the next level from a scheme and position perspective. Do you see yourself as a base end in a 4-3?
CG: Honestly, I’m just trying to get on the field (laughs). I don’t wanna put myself in a box. I don’t have any restrictions. I’m just trying to make plays in whatever scheme I’m in.
JM: When I turn the tape on, I see an incredibly powerful player that plays the game with terrific leverage. How did you develop those aspects of your game?
CG: That came with a lot of practice. I worked on that from the moment I got to Iowa. I’m a tall guy and I wanted to play tall. We’re a very fundamental team. We work on the fundamentals every single day at practice. I learned how to play smarter football.
JM: What can you tell me about your pass rush arsenal?
CG: My go-to is probably the stab with a stab-club counter move. I really like the double-hand swipe as well. I’ve been working on adding more moves to my arsenal throughout this process. I’m looking forward to expanding my toolbox down the road.
JM: Where have you been preparing for the draft?
CG: I was working at EXOS in Frisco, Texas. I was working with my guy coach [Brandon] Tucker at Trench Warfare in Texas. I’ve been getting in some great work.
JM: At this point in time, do you feel your game is more refined as a pass rusher, or against the run?
CG: I think I need to become a better player in both areas. I’ll say this, playing at Iowa, we played against a lot of high-powered rushing attacks. We’re very familiar with defending the run. We were run-heavy on offense too. I spent a ton of time in practice playing against the run. I’d say more developed in that area.
JM: That makes sense. You were at the Senior Bowl back in January. What do you think is the impression you left on the teams out there?
CG: I put in a lot of reps at defensive tackle. I proved that I wasn’t scared to go out there and learn a new position. I was willing to do that even though I was surrounded by some of the best talent in the nation. I wasn’t afraid to test my talents at a new position against some big-time players. I took to the coaching. I got out of my comfort zone and improved as a player.
JM: You absolutely did that. You also met with every team in person at the Senior Bowl. Since then, you’ve been meeting with teams virtually. How’s that process going for you, and which teams have you met with via Zoom?
CG: I’m really enjoying the process. I’ve met with quite a few teams. I’ve met with the Bengals, Saints, Giants, Rams, and Vikings come to mind. I’ve met with a lot of teams.
JM: There’s a lot of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, what kind of impact is Chauncey Golston going to make at the next level?
CG: I’m trying to be a key contributor in helping my team reach the Super Bowl.