The Atlanta Falcons went into the NFL Draft with their two biggest needs being CB and DE. The Falcons quickly snapped up a CB in Washington's Desmond Trufant. Most Falcons fans thought Thomas Dimitroff would go for a DE in round two and there were plenty of possibilities available. The ever unpredictable TD decided to go against conventional wisdom and instead loaded up on the corner position by grabbing SE Louisiana's Robert Alford. Without a third round pick (traded to St Louis in the Trufant deal) the Falcons waited until the 4th round to get a DE. With the #127 overall pick, the Falcons picked Clemson's Malliciah Goodman.
Some of Goodman's scouting reports label him with words like enigma, National Football Post says he could be a back-up for a year or even a practice squad player. Mike Mayock called him one of the better pass rushers in the draft. Statements on Goodman seem to run the gamut.
Here's what Dimitroff had to say about him....
He can stick them into the breastplate and manipulate the offensive lineman, the blocker. He has the ability to shed. He’s a manipulative kind of defensive player with those strong hands. He’ll continue to learn with our defensive line coach here, Sugar Bear (coach Ray Hamilton), and (defensive coordinator) Mike Nolan and I think he’ll continue to get more and more aggressive off the left side.”
He’s 275-plus pounds. He could be a 290-pound left defensive end, 5-technique, if we needed him to be. (He) has the versatility both at five-technique or you can move him outside a little bit more. He can rush up the field on the outside and also has the ability to hold the point. We like his versatility. We looked at him as mostly a left defensive end."
There are some big questions about Goodman. How he will fit into the Falcons defense and about what kind of player he can be? We needed answers and who better to turn to then somebody who has watched him play for the last four years?
Here is our Q&A with Figure Four of the Clemson blog ShakintheSouthland:
Grits Blitz: Goodman had seven sacks as senior but is seen as a disappointment in the eyes of a lot of Clemson fans. In what areas of his game will Goodman need to improve if he wants to be a consistent player in the NFL?
ShakintheSouthland: Of Goodman's seven sacks, I believe three of them came in the Peach Bowl against LSU. That is an excellent place to have the game of your career but only having four sacks in a twelve game regular season is not impressive. All this being said, we've continually hoped that Goodman would get faster while in college. Even after trimming down prior to last season I saw little overall improvement in speed or quickness. Overall, I believe professional coaches will ask that he add muscle mass. We noted this throughout Goodman's career at Clemson. Clemson S&C has been a concern we've expressed at STS for some time so I do believe that getting into the Falcons' program will be a big plus for this young man.
Both the quickness and need for functional speed will be needed to become better at setting the edge and maintaining his position there. Goodman did a relatively poor job while here at Clemson. With the discussion around the Falcons showing more true 3-4 looks, it will be very important for Goodman to learn to better control the edge.
Grits Blitz: What are the strengths in Goodman's game?
ShakintheSouthland: I think I heard that Goodman had the longest arms in the NFL Draft. Anytime you mention the guy's name, someone mentions his hand size. His long body should allow him to disrupt passing lanes. Also, in question #1 I discussed some of Goodman's collegiate shortcomings while almost dismissing his final game. There, against LSU, Goodman had the best game of his career--looking dominant and showing speed we hadn't seen consistently all season. If Goodman can keep his motor running the way he did in this bowl game, there should be tremendous upside there. I believe that being a professional and having this new atmosphere could allow Goodman to become a vastly improved player.
Grits Blitz: What expectations should Atlanta Falcons fans have for Goodman in his rookie season?
ShakintheSouthland: It is difficult to pin down exactly what you'll see out of Goodman in '13. If he is dedicated in the offseason and plays with the fire he did in the Peach Bowl, he has the physical ability to contribute early. If he performs the way he did for most of the last two seasons, he won't see the field. There is a good bit of upside and potential with Goodman--though I will need to see more than one great game to jump on the bandwagon.