Prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, our own Sy'56 had this to say about Clemson LB B.J. Goodson:
|I saw a ton of Goodson in 2015 and #44 kept popping on to the screen. There were so many players on that defense that I was scouting and time after time Goodson was right in the middle of the action. After further review I almost had him as a 1st rounder. Goodson is thick but fast and quick-twitched. He has all the power you want and maintains it on the move. Goodson moves well enough in coverage to possibly stay on the field for three downs. He is smart and reliable, rarely misses tackles. I don’t see superstar here and he can get overwhelmed in traffic, but Goodson is a guy that simply brings it play after play, week after week. I think he can be a 100+ tackle guy year in, year out.
After the draft, I was excited to see Goodson in action, but 2016 turned out to be essentially a red-shirt year for him. He saw very little action last year, with most of what he did see coming on special teams. In his place, the Giants preferred to go with free agent acquisitions Kelvin Sheppard and Keenan Robinson, with decidedly mixed results. While Robinson proved to be an asset, particularly in coverage, Sheppard appeared to be a liability.
Fast forward to 2017. The Giants re-signed Robinson (albeit on another one-year deal), but chose not to re-sign Sheppard (and I'm fairly certain that most of us did not "mourn Sheppard's passing" just as Dolphin fans didn't the year prior). The stage was set for the seldom-used Goodson to make his presence known, and he did exactly that as soon as the offseason program began.
As Sy pointed out to when I asked him about Goodson's emergence as a starter (and a three-down LB to boot) from relative obscurity as a rookie, the role of the MIKE is just as dependent on the mental aspect of the game as it is on the physical...maybe even more so. For Goodson, there was a lot more needed to get him up to speed than being a big hitter, and most of what was needed was between his ears. Enter Antonio Pierce.
Hardly the most gifted athlete to man the middle for Big Blue, Pierce was nonetheless smart, tough, and relentless, and as an interim coach for the Giants (brought in by his former DC, Steve Spagnuolo, to work with Goodson) he took the second-year pro under his wing this summer and helped him prepare for his new role as a starter. I don't think that Goodson could have had a better mentor.
“He stays in my ear so it’s never ending,” Goodson told the Daily News. “But I love it. I really, really appreciate it a lot.”
It's easy to dismiss the role of the LB in the Giants' 4-3 defense, what with their emphasis on defensive linemen and defensive backs. It's easy to overlook the LBs, what with potential DPOY candidates such as JPP and Landon Collins on the field...with arguably the most dominant DT in the game in Damon Harrison, and arguably the best CB corps the Giants have had since, well, ever. LBs are seemingly an afterthought.
Well, B.J. Goodson is no afterthought - not anymore - and with Sheppard gone and Robinson on the shelf, he's going to play a major role on the Giants' defense, a defense that rose like a phoenix in 2016 from the ashes of 2015's historical futility. I certainly hope that Sy was correct in his pre-draft assessment of Goodson, because I'm really looking forward to watching him bring it "play after play, week after week."
Light 'em up, kid.