Remember the days when pundits pondered if Usain Bolt could play football? Well, Marquise Goodwin is no Usain Bolt, but he is an Olympic athlete that will get his shot in the pro football ranks. At the University of Texas, Goodwin was a track athlete as well as a football player and made the 2012 Summer Olympic team. Goodwin has a tiny stature at 5’9″ and 192 lbs., but managed to make a large impact on football games when he got touches at the University of Texas.
As exciting as Goodwin was at the college level, his frame and skill set make many wonder if he will be successful in the pro ranks. In the next few series, I will analyze Goodwin’s usage and his strengths that could make him a valuable NFL player for the Buffalo Bills.
Breaking Goodwin Down: Contact
I thought I would shortly address the fact that Goodwin is small and how that would play a role in how he blocks. Some smaller players are not always aggressive and others simply are too small and get swallowed up by bigger defenders. The following sequence is from the 2012 Alamo Bowl in which Goodwin was the MVP.
This is the opening kickoff of the game and Goodwin did not take the return so he turns into the returner’s lead blocker initially.
The arrow is a little crooked, but you can clearly see that Goodwin has his man lined up in this sequence. Somehow, a man came free on the outside and could potentially blow up this return if he gets by Goodwin.
So much for Goodwin being too small to be physical. On this kick return, Goodwin destroyed the defender that came at him. I know the pictures are a bit grainy and this wasn’t necessarily a "tape study", I think it was worth debunking the myth that smaller players can’t be effective blockers and can’t be physical. I never like to watch players get hurt, but this is good news for the Bills.
Breaking Down Goodwin: Utility/Reverses
A large portion of Goodwin’s yards and usage came in reverses and in runs. Texas largely underutilized Goodwin throughout his career, however, when Goodwin is analyzed, it is clear that the Longhorns incorporated Goodwin into the gameplan through some gadget plays during his career.
Goodwin begins this play in the slot for Texas with the nearest defender splitting the difference between Goodwin and the last man on the line of scrimmage.
Okay, so Goodwin starts the reverse as the ball is snapped and it becomes clear that he will be headed for the sideline and hopefully for a long scamper. At this point in the game, Texas had not been able to really get anything going and David Ash, Texas’ quarterback, was really holding the offense back from doing anything greater.
I apologize about the fact that it appears that a five year old wrote the numbers, but I think it is noteworthy to point out that there are eight different defenders chasing Goodwin and he is only eight yards down field. 5, 6,7, and 8 all have a reasonable chance to catch Goodwin down the sideline, however everyone else, especially 1 look out of the chase. Goodwin’s speed is incredible and he made it eight yards without anyone laying a finger on him.
Goodwin beat out every defender to score Texas’ first touchdown of the game. He solely kept Texas in the game early when David Ash could not hit the broad side of a barn and the offense kept stalling out. His speed lets him escape various situations where he is totally boxed in by four defenders and it looks impossible to escape.
This next sequence is strikingly similar to the last, so I will shorten it up, but it goes to show the lack of creativity that Texas really had when it came to Goodwin and his usage as well as the fact that Goodwin made the most of his opportunities that he was given. This next clip is from a game against Ole Miss in Goodwin’s senior year.
Goodwin is lined up as the outside receiver on the far end of the field and unlike the last sequence, the Longhorns are in a single back set with double tight ends. Goodwin receives the ball directly from the quarterback instead of Jonathan Gray, the running back. Instead of being a double reverse, this is just a reverse that goes directly to Goodwin.
Goodwin not only makes it out of a four man box, but he beats 1 and 2 to a spot that both are closer to. His acceleration and speed show through incredibly well on the various reverses that Ole Miss utilizes. At the next level, the same will likely not happen, however, Goodwin has many skills that will translate well and he can definitely make an impact as a gadget player.
Breaking Down Goodwin: Receiving Skills
This play is relatively simple, however, it is one of the few times that I saw Texas throw Goodwin the ball when he runs an intermediate route. It is extremely difficult to see, but Goodwin cuts on his route incredibly tight and incredibly low to the ground which benefits him because the corner was playing extremely tight to Goodwin’s body and created just enough separation.
Goodwin makes a nice catch on the comeback route even though the defender is all over him. It is a short route, but it does help to dispel the stigma that Goodwin is strictly a gadget player and doesn’t have the skill level to run anything except for fly routes. Had Texas used Goodwin more in this way, he probably would have put up better numbers and contributed even more to Texas’ offense.
In the Alamo Bowl, Texas also utilized Goodwin’s speed and quickness by running two similar plays where Goodwin would run a stutter and go into the endzone.
Goodwin begins lined up against Oregon State’s corner and runs straight ahead to about the twenty yard line.
Once Goodwin gets to the twenty yard line, he breaks down as if he is going to turn back on a comeback route as he gives a little bit of a head and shoulder fake. The corner bites hard on the fake which earns Goodwin a good deal of separation. Those three yards would have been very important, however, Goodwin lost the ball in the air as he was tracking it. Obviously, Goodwin’s speed is his biggest attribute, but his fake and burst back into the route are impressive. He is not a simple speed player that washes through the league, but he has skills and attributes that could make him a valuable member of the Buffalo Bills.
Here again, Goodwin runs another fake comeback route and puts his whole body into it. The defensive back takes the bait and bites on the fake, giving Goodwin the ability to make a run toward the endzone. Goodwin has the ability to run a variety of short and intermediate routes that can be built off of to create longer routes and fakes for the big play.
As you can see, Goodwin’s fake makes the defensive back come up, locking his hips in a position that makes it difficult for him to turn and run with Goodwin to the endzone. Goodwin has explosive straight line speed which makes it even more difficult for the defensive back to recover.
Goodwin finishes off this plays with a solid over the shoulder catch and about five to six yards of separation. Goodwin possesses a dangerous combination of quickness, speed, and toughness which will make him difficult to cover in the NFL. If he can fight off longer and more physical corners, Goodwin could flash rare speed and ability to get open in all sorts of routes. In the end, Goodwin will be much more than just a deep threat or a speed receiver because his abilities on routes are much better than many people graded and he can run short and intermediate routes. Although not included in this review of Goodwin’s work, he did a nice job adjusting to the deep ball which is specifically seen in his tape against Ole Miss where he was under thrown and adjusted enough to make a nice catch twice. Most importantly, Goodwin can take the top off the defense and help CJ Spiller really show his abilities for the Buffalo Bills.