Zaviar Gooden: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Missouri Linebacker
Zaviar Gooden is yet another linebacker who is shooting up draft boards as I type this. He was overlooked in Missouri's defense due to the presence of Sheldon Richardson the past couple seasons and even Aldon Smith before that.
For Gooden, he needed to shine in postseason workouts.
Boy, has he ever. The talented linebacker was considered a solid day-three pick early in the process, but has since been mentioned as a possible second-round selection.
Let's take a look at five things you simply must know about the Missouri product as he transitions to the National Football League.
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Full Name: Zaviar Gooden
Hometown: Pflugerville, Texas
High School: Pflugerville High School in Texas
Zaviar Gooden was ranked No. 56 among Texas recruits back in 2008 by Rivals.com. Not necessarily a bad feat considering just how much talent that state brings to college football on an annual basis.
He was recruited by Purdue, Oklahoma State and Stanford, among other top-flight collegiate programs. The most telling school in that recruitment list has to be Stanford. This was due to the fact that Gooden possessed a ridiculous 3.9 GPA in high school (via Rivals.com).
Gooden was a first-team Academic All-Big 12 member in 2009 and graduated from Missouri with a degree in business administration.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
2009 (Freshman): 13 games, 30 tackles (21 solo, 2.5 for loss) and one forced fumble
2010 (Sophomore): 13 games, 84 tackles (49 solo, 7.5 for loss), two interceptions, five passes broken up and three sacks.
2011 (Junior): 13 games, 80 tackles (54 solo, six for loss), two interceptions, four passes broken up and one sack.
2012 (Senior): 10 games, 61 tackles (36 solo, four for loss), one interception and one touchdown.
Gooden made the transition from safety to linebacker prior to his freshman season at Missouri and made an impact at his new position that first season. He recorded 30 tackles and a forced fumble as a primary backup at two linebacker positions, including being behind former first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon on the weak side.
The talented linebacker began his sophomore campaign as a starter and never looked back. He led the team with 84 tackles and acted as a leader both on and off the field.
While Gooden's tackle numbers went down in 2011, he remained an important playmaker from the linebacker position and one of the most consistent performers in the conference.
Held back by a hamstring injury as a senior in 2012, Gooden missed two games and didn't possess the same stellar numbers that we saw the past two seasons.
All statistics provided by CFB Stats.
Courtesy of ESPN
Weight: 234 lbs.
Arm Length: 31.25"
Hand Size: 10"
Broad Jump: 131.0"
40-Yard Dash: 4.47
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.18
Three-Cone Drill: 6.71
Vertical Jump: 34.0"
Bench Press: 27 reps at 225
Gooden was one of the most impressive overall performers at the NFL Scouting Combine. He finished fourth among all linebackers with a stellar 4.47 40-yard dash, put up a surprising 27 bench press reps and ranked fourth with a solid 6.71 three-cone drill.
It was, however, Gooden's pro day performance that caught the attention of scouts. Gil Brandt of NFL.com filed the following report from Missouri's pro day event:
Gooden had a 38 1/2-inch vertical jump (4 1/2 inches better than his NFL Scouting Combine number). He then stood by the rest of his numbers from the combine (he was a top performer in his position group at the combine in every workout but the vertical). Gooden is a good athlete with speed. This is a good linebacker prospect.
All measurements and combine numbers provided by NFL.com.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Not only was Gooden a standout on the football field and in the classroom at Missouri, he did his fair share of community work. It's always refreshing to see someone like him give back to the people and have fun doing it.
Speaking with Pete Smith of Football Nation, Gooden had this to say about his volunteer work:
I was real heavy in the FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, speaking at middle schools, high schools, and just different events like that. I definitely want to do something for the youth when I get to the NFL, help the youth out, help them stay out of trouble.
Teach them, for people aspiring to get to college and play Division I or just play football anywhere, I’d like to help them out about the process; help them stay on the track with getting their grades right, so they can get to the next level and stay out of trouble. ... I just want to help people out like that. Also, I have been planning a missionary trip to Africa with a guy I that used to go to school with as well. I want to spend some time over and basically just give back to them and just help them out in any way I can.
I have to say, this kid is carrying a very mature attitude with him into the National Football League. His combination of dedication on the field, hard work in the classroom and overall maturity should be applauded. Whoever is lucky enough to nab Gooden in the upcoming draft will be getting a high-character individual.
Courtesy of Football Nation
By now, most of you have come to the conclusion that Gooden is one of my draft crushes. I absolutely love what he does in coverage down the field, his tackling ability at the line and intelligence on the football field.
All these skill sets seem to indicate that he will be a highly productive starter in the National Football League for the next decade or so.
Our very own Matt Miller has Gooden with a third-round grade, which makes sense at this point. That being said, I can easily envision a scenario where he goes in the second round to a team in need of coverage help from the outside linebacker position.
Miller does, however, believe that Gooden possesses the best potential of any linebacker in the draft class.
It will be interesting to see where he goes come draft day and what type of scheme the team that selects him runs on the defensive side of the ball. That will go a long way in deciding just how much potential Gooden has at the next level.
Vincent Frank is an NFL Featured Columnist here at Bleacher Report. Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft, co-host of Draft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. ET, and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus.
Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.