After the Buffalo Bills selected Groot and Boogie in the 2021 NFL Draft, fans may have been under the impression they were done picking players with awesome names/nicknames. Then along comes Rachad Wildgoose Jr., cornerback from Wisconsin. Let’s hit the film “room” to see if Wildgoose will enter the annual “try to replace Levi Wallace” sweepstakes. Many will enter, none will win! Or how about the annual “try to replace Taron Johnson” sweepstakes. Terms and conditions apply!
Disclaimer: If you ask me (and you didn’t but I’m telling you anyway), defensive backs are arguably the hardest position for film reviews. Even the NFL All-22 angles often miss some of the action. With the available film for Rachad Wildgoose taking away all the advantages of the NFL footage and lowering the volume of film to look at, all I’ll go on record with is what I’d call “impressions” of the player. Thanks again to Dan Lavoie for setting me up with what film there is, without which there wouldn’t even be impressions.
The first thing to notice is that Rachad Wildgoose turns his hips right away as opposed to backpedaling. Some of this seemed to be due to assignment and routes he was covering, but this did seem to be Wildgoose’s default. He turns back to get into the play and is met with a block. Physically he struggles to get push, but is savvy enough to shed the block at the end. This seems to match his mockdraftable.com spider chart, which suggests underwhelming physicality and athleticism.
Wildgoose’s initial assignment is to the top of the screen. I point out the big step he takes to change direction, which is fairly early into the play. Wildgoose runs back to the ball carrier for the tackle.
Wildgoose CAN backpedal, and he does so for a couple steps here before turning his hips. It’s likely he changed technique to react to the route. When the ball heads another direction, a big gain is inevitable. Wildgoose takes a smart angle to make sure he’ll make the stop before a touchdown. Despite the limitations noted above during the film review process, there were enough examples of similar angles for me to say that I do feel this is a strength.
This is pretty straightforward but I feel like it speaks to his patience and awareness of the play. Wildgoose makes sure he ends the play.
To answer the question above: Wisconsin seemed to like Rachad Wildgoose as the slot corner, although he did float all over. Wildgoose seemed to match his measured athletic profile on the field. More specifically, nothing stood out athletically in either direction. Wildgoose wasn’t shy about initiating contact, took good angles in pursuit, and was pretty good reading and reacting to shifting plays.
A fair number of players have tried to usurp the roles of Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson and more are waiting in the wings. If that occurs, it’s more likely to be Dane Jackson or a free-agent to be determined later. Wildgoose is likely fighting for a practice-squad gig.