Rookie Progress Report: B.J. Goodson

Posted Jun 27, 2016's Dan Salomone takes an in-depth look at the 2016 rookie class following the offseason program:

Half a year has passed since rookies played in their last college game, and yet they’ve never been busier.

Over that time, the NFL’s incoming class prepared for the combine, participated in the combine, held Pro Days, anxiously awaited the draft results, and reported for rookie minicamp before being thrown into the deep end with veterans during spring practices. Such is life for an athlete trying to make it to the professional level.

The rookies were around last week for the league’s transition program, but now they're enjoying a much-needed break before reporting for training camp on July 28. So it's a good time to gauge their progress heading into summer.

Today’s rookie report is on linebacker B.J. Goodson, the Giants’ fourth-round pick out of Clemson:



After playing behind future first-round draft pick Stephone Anthony for three years, Goodson got his chance as a full-time starter in 2015. He exceled in that one year, leading the team in tackles as Clemson went on to an undefeated regular season, an ACC title, and an appearance in the College Football Playoff championship game. Goodson, who had a pre-draft visit with the Giants, was the fifth Clemson defender taken this year, joining DE Shaq Lawson (first round, Bills), DE Kevin Dodd (second round, Titans), S T.J. Green (second round, Colts) and CB Mackensie Alexander (second round, Vikings).

“Well, it is interesting at Clemson,” said Marc Ross, the Giants’ vice president of player evaluation. “Shaq Lawson was a one-year starter; Kevin Dodd was a one-year starter, Vic Beasley. For some reason, even their better players only start one year. Some guys are late developers, so what [Goodson] did this year, the production, the leadership on and off the field, he has the mindset and the temperament to come in here and compete. The guy wants it and so is he going to start? I don’t know, but he is going to push people and he is going to work his butt off to get on to the field.”


Goodson showed he can play all three linebacker positions in college, but his ideal role at the NFL level might be in the middle. After the selection, coach Ben McAdoo praised his intelligence, instincts, and physicality between the tackles. Meanwhile, the Giants have competition all over the board in a veteran linebacker room that is now led by Bill McGovern.


After Goodson, third-year pro Devon Kennard is the youngest linebacker. The rest -- Jasper Brinkley (eight), Jonathan Casillas (eight), Kelvin Sheppard (six), Mark Herzlich (six), J.T. Thomas (six) and Keenan Robinson (five) -- have 39 years of experience combined heading into 2016. Brinkley started the final nine games of 2015 at middle linebacker, the position previously held by Jon Beason. The Giants also added Robinson and Sheppard, who both have experience in the middle.


A tackling machine like Goodson can’t wait for the pads to come on this summer, but in the meantime, he showed his range of skills during non-contact organized team activities and minicamp practices. In OTA No. 4, Goodson made a circus catch for an interception off third-string quarterback B.J. Daniels. A few practices later, he grabbed another off Daniels. 


Goodson is a rookie and he is a linebacker. That combination makes him a lock for a key role on special teams, where he was a valuable player for the Tigers. And just like in college, that’s where he could first make a name for himself while trying to carve out a spot on defense. 

“[I can be a] great help on special teams,” Goodson said. “I’m ready to get with the veterans and get up under their wings and learn as much as I can and get ready to help that team get ready to win another Super Bowl.”


As spring went on, Goodson started to settle into the defense and has come “light years” from the first OTA to the end of minicamp, according to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The encouraging start sets the table to an intriguing competition at linebacker when training camp rolls around on July 28.


“There is a lot of competition there, so I think they are all getting better,” Spagnuolo said. “All of the defensive spots, you find out most when you put the pads on and that one especially. The guys that are going to play downhill, the guys that are going to play physical, the guys that are going to be playing with their pads and punching, pressing, so there is a little bit further to go there and that hasn’t really ironed itself out as far as who is playing where, who is starting, who is one and who is two. That is going to be an interesting battle in training camp.”