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Mario Goodrich DN
NFL Draft

Mario Goodrich: NFL Draft Prospect Interview

  • Justin Melo
  • February 27, 2022
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Clemson's Mario Goodrich took a sizable step forward in 2021 while stepping into a more prominent role opposite Andrew Booth Jr. The talented and naturally gifted Goodrich patiently waited in the wings for his opportunity and undoubtedly seized the opportunity when the Tigers called his number on a more consistent basis this past season. Goodrich is an extremely physical and long-armed defensive back with the skill set to thrive throughout the pre-draft process. Goodrich recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network regarding his improving ball production, his willingness to travel downhill and tackle ball-carriers, his abilities in man coverage, the chemistry and bond he developed alongside Booth in Clemson's secondary, the best receivers he's ever competed against, and so much more. JM: You really broke out as a starter this past season. Besides more opportunities and reps, what changed for you in 2021? MG: I definitely feel like I changed my mentality. I played behind and learned from so many great players and cornerbacks at Clemson that went on to accomplish great things in the NFL. I have to thank the guys that came before me. I saw the position they put themselves in. I had to go out there and perform at my best. I was also extremely healthy throughout 2021. It allowed me to play at the highest level imaginable. JM: When I turn on the tape, I see a cornerback with terrific size, length, and athleticism. How do you describe the way you prefer to play the game? MG: I’m a physical guy first and foremost. I love coming up and making tackles in the run game. I love to put my hands on receivers and disrupt their timing with the quarterback. I’m an extremely physical and aggressive player. I’m a press-man coverage type of cornerback. JM: That brings me to my next question. You’re an outstanding tackler in the run game as well. You don’t see a ton of willing tacklers at the cornerback position nowadays, especially ones at the collegiate level. How did you develop that mentality? MG: I played running back growing up. I love contact (laughs). I’ve always liked contact. I’ve always been the most physical player on the field. I‘ve never shied away from contact. As I moved over to the defensive side of the ball, I just carried that mentality with me. I just love hitting, honestly. JM: We love that. Your ball production took a nice step forward in 2021. You recorded two interceptions and a career-high nine passes defended. Was that an area of focus for you entering the season? MG: Me being in the correct positions helped me make more plays on the ball. I’m aware that I made more plays this year. I was a bit out of position on a few occasions the year before. I was more patient at the line of scrimmage in 2021 and I leaned on my technique more this year. It helped put me in better positions to make plays on the ball. JM: You talked about being a press-man corner. I thought your reps in press coverage jumped off the screen from a traits perspective. What do you most enjoy about playing man coverage? MG: I love being on an island by myself. When you see me, I’m typically lined up toward the other team’s sideline. It’s me against you over there. I love the competition aspect of it. Guys are chirping over there and I embrace the opportunity. It’s a position that brings a different edge and intensity to the game of football. I love locking up a receiver toward the other team’s sideline. It gives me a different type of fire. JM: Your intensity stands out. Do you see yourself playing inside or outside at the next level? MG: I don’t really have a preference there. I’ve done both. I see myself playing wherever my pro team needs me to play. I feel like I can play all over the field when it comes to the secondary. I can play wherever they need me to play. JM: Playing at Clemson allowed you to play against some of the best competition in the country. Who are some of the best receivers you’ve ever had to cover throughout your time at Clemson? MG: I would start off by shouting out Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross. I started my career by covering those guys every day on the practice field. Going against them made me a better cornerback. As far as outside candidates go, Ohio State always had some good receivers. A.T. Perry from Wake Forest is a good player. He understands how to get off man coverage. He’s a physical blocker in the running game as well. Those guys stick out to me. JM: That’s a great list. Tell me about the chemistry you developed with Andrew Booth Jr. and how that bond improved both of your skill sets? MG: We both knew that we had to set the tone for the secondary. We took it upon ourselves to make sure we helped the younger guys learn about the correct mindset. We wanted to help them come in and perform. We knew we were the older guys in the room and we wanted to show them how the older guys did it before us. We wanted to pass those same lessons down. It’s all about hard work and the things that come with that at the end of the day. JM: We love that you took up that leadership role. What’s one strength of your game that you don’t think gets enough credit? MG: I don’t think any part of my game gets enough credit to be honest with you (laughs). I feel like I’m still being slept on. I’m just trying to show the coaches and scouts what I can do and what I’m all about as a player and prospect. I’m trying to prove the doubters wrong. I’m still waking people up to my talent. That’s what I’m trying to do throughout this process. I feel like I’m being slept on throughout this pre-draft process. I’ve been slept on and underrated this entire year. It’s all good. I’m going to show people at the end of the day. JM: We respect and admire the confidence, and I agree with you. How do you approach a bigger receiver in coverage differently than you do a smaller, shiftier one? MG: It’s harder for those bigger receivers to move around, but it’s easier for them to push off and use their size to their advantage. When I’m covering a bigger guy, I can be aggressive, but I can also be a bit more patient. With those smaller and faster guys, the whole rep feels sped up. It’s all about being quicker within your process. You can be patient with those bigger guys and stay square with them. It’s different. You have to get your hands on those little guys and be physical with them. They really don’t like contact. The bigger guys typically don’t shy away from contact. You have to make your presence felt either way. JM: That’s a perfect summary. I’ve really appreciated your time today. What kind of impact is Mario Goodrich going to make at the next level? MG: I’m going to come in and be a day one starter. I feel like I can really achieve that. I’m going to be a contributor in whichever area of the game my team needs me to contribute. Whether that’s playing nickel, safety, or on the outside, I can play all over the secondary. I feel like I’m going to be an extremely productive player once I hit the field.

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Justin Melo