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NFL Draft

Don’t Let Mario Goodrich Get Lost In 2022 NFL Draft Shuffle

  • Ryan Fowler
  • January 15, 2022
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A first-team All-ACC performer, like Coby Bryant opposite Sauce Gardner at Cincinnati, Mario Goodrich was the Robin to Andrew Booth Jr.’s Batman this season for the Clemson defense. While his game flew under the radar for most of the year as Booth consistently drew the brunt of the spotlight, Goodrich’s success this fall as the man teams were forced to target has introduced a talent to familiarize yourself with as we head into the pre-draft circuit. A highly-recruited prospect out of Kansas City, Missouri, Goodrich was primarily uninvolved and underutilized by head coach Dabo Swinney during his first three seasons on campus. A role player that—like many highly-touted prep prospects—initially saw his calling card on special teams and as a subpackage defender on strict passing downs, 2021 invited an entirely new scope into Goodrich’s impressive game as a highly-impactful, physical outside corner. One of the class’ biggest risers at the position, Goodrich is exactly the type of corner you desire to isolate the side of the formation. A long-armed defensive back who uses his aggressiveness and physicality to often overpower opposing wideouts throughout their route stem, while his one year of success could shy teams away from taking a swing on the alpha corner, his senior season was more of a stepping stool of what’s to come, rather than a display of peak performance and a de facto flash in the pan. Following the departure of two-time All-ACC performer Derion Kendrick in February, the Tigers quickly found themselves without a CB2 as Booth took over CB1 responsibilities. While a program like Clemson often has the luxury to slide in a 5-star recruit or plug-and-play a guy fresh out of the transfer portal, Swinney opted for an internal promotion, placing his trust in the veteran defender in Goodrich to shore up the apex of his defense and fill the shoes left vacant from Kendrick, who ultimately transferred to Georgia and won a National Championship this fall. Like all things, however, with subtraction comes addition, and while the Tigers’ defense presented a newfound skeleton on the backend as they prepped for spring workouts, the evolvement of Goodrich’s game allowed both he and Booth to constantly play off of each other’s success despite a rather lackluster season in Death Valley. While his tape is impressive enough as a primary zone corner with quick-twitch ability to close space and remain physical at the catch point, where Goodrich has flashed exquisitely on tape this fall is in his ability to work downhill, through blocks, consistently wrapping up ball-carriers with ease. One of the top pure tackling corners in the class, if you’re an NFL team in need of a defender to stick his nose in the run game on the outside, Goodrich represents the cream of the crop in what is a deep corner class. Without a missed tackle all season long—yes, he’s been that good—and despite his limitations physically where it will serve him best to add some sand in his pants to further armor against the physical nature of playing defensive back in the NFL, from a foundational level, and as teams move toward the meat of the selection process, Goodrich has all the traits, at the most minimalistic level, to immediately become a high-impact, core special teamer and a perimeter defender that has the ability to slide in at CB3 from his first days as a pro—slowly working into more snaps as he becomes increasingly comfortable with the speed of the NFL game. Another secondary prospect whose tape has been slid under the rug as a secondary option to the day-one level talent opposite him, microscoping Goodrich has presented one of the most enjoyable film studies of the process this winter. Set to compete at the Senior Bowl in the coming weeks, an above-average performance in isolated opportunities could see his stock rise significantly moving forward.

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Ryan Fowler