Florida State DL Eddie Goldman is one of the top talents at his position and a likely a first round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Brian Filipiak explores whether the defender’s tools and technique match his impressive physical appearance.
An imposing figure possessing the prototypical build of a defensive tackle, Eddie Goldman was an integral part of the Seminoles success that included the number one scoring defense and an undefeated national championship season in 2013. A two-year starter and team captain at FSU, Goldman earned first-team All-ACC and All-America honors as a true junior in 2014.
The defensive lineman finished with 35 total tackles: 19 solo, 16 assisted, eight for a loss, a team-leading four sacks, one pass deflection and one forced fumble in his final season. Appearing in 36 games with 27 starts over three years, Goldman accumulated 62 tackles ‒ 31 solo, 31 assisted ‒ with 12 for losses and six sacks during his collegiate career.
Tale of the Tape
Built like a vending machine, the 6-foot-4 Goldman arrived at the NFL Scouting Combine weighing in at 336 pounds. Despite his attendance, the 21-year-old did not participate in any combine events or positional drills due to a minor ankle injury.
At Florida State’s Pro Day held in March, the defensive lineman ran the 40-yard dash in 5.12 seconds, which would have ranked him slightly behind the combine 40-times of Iowa’s Carl Davis (5.07) and Oregon’s Arik Armstead (5.10) and slightly ahead of Oklahoma’s Jordan Phillips (5.17).
Goldman also recorded a 26-inch vertical jump, a 20-yard short shuttle time of 4.87 seconds and a three-cone drill time of 7.62 seconds – numbers that would have placed him in the middle of the pack among his peers at the combine. In addition, the former Seminole recorded only 19 reps on the 225 pound bench press – a modest number considering the combine average of 27 reps.
What He Does Well
Goldman has experience in multiple techniques and positions across Florida State’s defensive line. The massive defender’s combination of size, strength, and initial quick steps in confined spaces are most effectively used in a role as a one-gap penetrator against both the run and pass.
In two run stops highlighted below, Goldman operates from a 4i-technique position shaded over the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle:
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Both plays demonstrate Goldman’s strong reaction time when exploding out of his stance, as well as his ability to shed blocks and squeeze running lanes when engaged one-on-one with a blocker. The defensive tackle also displays excellent strength with his hands and can easily extend his arms to lock out and create separation as he tracks the ball carrier.
Goldman supplements his large frame with sound technique, capable of delivering a mighty punch to rock blockers back on their heels and pop running backs as they hit the hole, such as on this play below:
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Firing out of his stance with tremendous power, Goldman drives his heavy mitts high into the chest of his opponent, rolling his hips forward with good bend at the knees to maximize his leverage. After effortlessly resetting the line of scrimmage, the defensive tackle locates the approaching running back and disengages his inside arm from the block, ripping at the exposed ball and jarring it loose.
Goldman’s ability to penetrate and re-establish the line of scrimmage as a one-gap defensive tackle could make him an attractive option along the interior of most 4-3 defenses.
Pass Rush Potential
Although often subbed out on passing downs while at FSU, Goldman flashed potential when rushing the passer, relying on his powerful hands and brute strength to dominate blockers:
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In a head up position over the ball, Goldman stutter steps toward the strong-side A-gap before walloping the center with a knee-buckling club to the back of the helmet. With his opponent knocked to the turf, the defensive tackle closes ground quickly on the quarterback for the sack.
A power-based pass rusher, Goldman showed a promising bull rush when attempting to collapse the pocket, such as on the play captured here:
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Aligned as a 1-technique (on the inside shoulder of the offensive guard), the defensive tackle plows forward into his opponent on the bull rush. Supporting his upper body strength with a strong base ‒ hips forward, knees bent, feet/ankles churning ‒ Goldman locks the knees of the guard before defeating the block. The defender uses his hands and arms extremely well, creating separation by extending his forearms and sweeping through the blocker’s ill-fated grasp to finish off the play for another sack.
While Goldman’s six sacks over his final two seasons appear pedestrian on the surface, he was fairly productive in this area when considering his usage and opportunities, particularly when compared to some of his peers like Armstead, Davis and Phillips, who combined for 11 sacks in over 100 collegiate games.
Although at times a capable space eater against the run, Goldman did not always display the desired consistency when asked to hold up against double-teams. The big-bodied defender also revealed lapses in discipline in both the run and pass game.
In the cut-up shown below, Goldman struggles as a 0-technique, failing to anchor at the line of scrimmage, occupy blocks, and control his gap:
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Above, Goldman becomes too easily dislodged against combination blocks at the point of attack. On the first play, the nose tackle engages the center too high, allowing the guard on the combo block to knock him off balance and force him out of position on the run up the gut. In the second play, the center-guard blocking combo pancakes Goldman to the ground on the short yardage run for a first down.
For a player of his size and apparent strength, Goldman was overpowered on double-teams often enough in the film reviewed to warrant some concern regarding his technique and ability to handle the nose tackle position at the next level.
It should be noted that Goldman mostly played defensive end within the Seminoles 3-4 base defense during the 2013 season before shifting to nose tackle for his junior year. The combination of learning to play at a heavier weight ‒ he put on a little more than 20 pounds between his sophomore and NFL Combine weigh-ins ‒ at a position with little previous experience could explain some of his inconsistencies.
Key & Gap Discipline
On a handful of occasions, Goldman misdiagnosed run plays. On film, it seemed to be reading and reacting to false keys and pulling himself out of position as a result:
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Goldman bites on the blocking action of the center toward the weak-side and abandons his gap responsibility in the process. With a large running lane now exposed and the backside guard pulling across the center to meet the linebacker in the hole, the ball carrier picks up an easy first down.
Small Impact Radius
Lacking sustained quickness and lateral movement, Goldman rarely made an impact outside of the tackle box. He struggled with run plays toward the sideline and QB scrambles outside the pocket. The defender also frequently failed keep himself in a play when forced to plant, quickly change direction and pursue the ball from behind.
Pass Rush Integrity
When Goldman sacrificed rush lane discipline for penetration, it led to escape windows for mobile quarterbacks:
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As a 0-technique on the five-man blitz showcased above, Goldman likely has dual A-gap responsibilities as the outside pass rushers pinch the corners of the pocket. His decision to rush upfield creates a sizable lane for the quarterback to step into for a first down scramble on second and long. The play also emphasizes Goldman’s overall athletic limitations when asked to abruptly shift his weight and change direction.
Comparable Player: Phil Taylor
While Goldman may not be taken as highly as Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Phil Taylor ‒ 21st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft ‒ the two players compare favorably based on their size, college production and scheme versatility. Both are capable of being a fit at defensive end or nose tackle in a 3-4 front and a 1-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 front.
Goldman’s blend of power and initial burst may project best to defensive tackle in 4-3 defense where he can make the most of his penetration skills as both a run stuffer and pass rusher. While he has the physical appearance of a prototypical 3-4 nose tackle, Goldman is still raw for the position as he does not anchor at the point of attack consistently enough when head up over center and when faced with double-teams.
Improved discipline and technique will be a necessity to complete at high level in a nose tackle role in the NFL. Despite those concerns, Goldman’s positives and positional flexibility to work in either defensive front outweigh his negatives. The defensive lineman is a top five talent at the position that may sneak into the first round.
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