The Bucs started off the third and final day of the draft by doing something they hadn’t done so far this draft – staying put. In doing so, they nabbed their second linebacker of the draft, West Virginia LB Najee Goode, with the 4th pick in the 5th round (140th overall).
Goode, listed at 6’, 244 pounds, played inside and outside during his time at West Virginia. He started out at middle linebacker for the 3-3-5 Mountaineer defense his senior season, in which he had his most successful year with 87 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks.
“I played inside and outside during my whole career, but going into my senior year, that’s what I was listed as because I started in the middle. I played pretty good there. I moved around wherever my team needed me. I’m versatile. I can play either position.”
Like MLB Mason Foster, Goode shifted positions multiple times during his college career. He started outside, and was shifted to middle linebacker as a sophomore. His senior year, he was shifted over to strong-side linebacker after the Mountaineers’ fourth game. He played there for four games before finishing the last five games of the year at the weak-side position.
According to Goode, the scheme of his college defense, with only three down linemen, required him to be in constant contact with offensive linemen, and that he’s used to having to get off blocks.
“Playing in my college defense, the three-three-five, I’m used to hitting linemen, so I can bust (them) and get up off of them.”
Greg Schiano certainly had the opportunity to evaluate Goode up close the last few seasons, as Goode and his Mountaineers were victorious over Schiano’s Scarlet Knights during Goode’s four years in Morgantown. According to Goode, the Bucs showed interest in him as early as the East-West Shrine Game in January and stayed in contact with him during the pre-draft process.
“I didn’t visit (the Bucs) formally, but I talked to them at the combine. I talked to them at the East-West game. I saw a few scouts and kept in contact with them throughout this whole process, and I’m just glad they believe in me to be a great linebacker for them.”
Goode said growing up in a family with a father who played in the NFL and three brothers (two of whom played college football) helped motivate him and make him tougher.
“Definitely. My family is all boys. I have one female cousin on my dad’s side that lives over here in Cleveland with us. We always try to make each other better, and I have a close family that I thank God for, I thank my Dad for. Just them supporting me though this whole opportunity has been great, and I’ve just thankful for everything they’ve done. My dad, playing in the NFL, never impressed upon us about anything he wanted us to do. He just said ‘go out there. If you’re gonna play football, play football. Make plays.’ I was able to do that and get to where I’m at right now.”