The Tennessee Titans closed out the third round of the NFL Draft by selecting linebacker Zaviar Gooden of Missouri with the 97th overall pick, a compensatory selection.
Gooden is another speedy linebacker, having run a 4.47 time in the 40-yard dash and originally came to the Tigers as a safety.
“I played running back and safety coming out of high school and I went to Missouri as a safety. I have only been playing linebacker for three years. They moved me to the Will (weak side) position my redshirt sophomore year and I started that year and led the team in tackles that year in my first year starting at linebacker,” Gooden said. “I just had to gain some weight. When I was playing safety I was around 215 playing safety and now I’m up to 235, so I threw on some weight. I actually played the season at 230, but I have put on five pounds since.”
He started his final 36 contests at outside linebacker at Missouri, including 10 games in 2012. Last season, Gooden had 61 tackles, including 36 solo stops with four tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. He also returned an inteception for a touchdown.
Gooden should provide some depth at the linebacker position, where the team is relatively thin behind starters Akeem Ayers, Colin McCarthy and Zach Brown. He played mostly weakside linebacker at Missouri and will see most of his action there, presumably backing up Brown or perhaps playing in some packages together on defense.
“First of all, I don’t think you can have too much speed. They both can fly. This kid runs 4.49 – 4.53 in there. I think what you have to understand about Zaviar is that he is a much more physical individual than you think,” linebackers coach Chet Parlavecchio said. “He’s a great bodied kid. He’s second in the combine in the bench press. He’s a physical kid. He needs a little more experience in the box as far as playing the power and the run game. But I think in a lot of the schemes that we are going to be doing in the future, you could see that develop into a situation where both of them are on the field at the same time.
“That wouldn’t be a bad scenario with two 4.5 guys with the physicality that the two of them have being on the field at the same time. Special teams wise you just made an improvement. You just got an explosive player that can do a lot of things for you on teams. The youth of our football team and the depth of our football team at linebackers just got a lot better.”