Seeking to reinforce a defense that finished with its lowest NFL ranking in 25 years in 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their fifth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to select West Virginia linebacker Najee Goode on Saturday.
The Buccaneers have now made four selections in this year's draft, and three of them have produced new assets for first-year Head Coach Greg Schiano's defense. The team used the seventh overall pick in the first round to draft Alabama safety Mark Barron on Thursday, then traded up from the third round into the second on Friday to snare Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David. The lone offensive player selected so far was first-round running back Doug Martin of Boise State.
The 6-0, 244-pound Goode is an inside linebacker with a compact frame and good pop at the point of contact. A starter during the 2010-2011 seasons for the Mountaineers, he 134 tackles, 8.0 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss. In his final 25 collegiate games he made 21 stops behind the line of scrimmage despite playing in a run-stopping role in the middle of WVU's defense.
Scouts laud Goode for his natural football instincts and his ability to work through a crowded field to find the ballcarrier. An honor roll student in high school who was recently timed at 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, Goode gives the Buccaneers yet another linebacker with the speed and play-recognition abilities to make tackles from sideline to sideline.
As a senior in 2011, Goode earned first-team All-Big East honors after starting all 13 games, including a handful each in the middle, on the strong side and on the weak side. He finished with a career-best 87 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 14.0 tackles for loss and also notched his second career interception. In his first season as a starter in 2010, Goode rang up 47 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, while also being credited with four passes defensed and four quarterback pressures. Bay area fans may remember him for his two-sack performance against South Florida that fall.
This marks the third straight year that the Buccaneers have used three of their first four picks on defensive players, and that means the squad is now loaded with promising talent on that side of the ball as Schiano attempts to rebuild the team to its past defensive glory. This is the first time since 2007, however, that the Buccaneers have drafted two linebackers in the same class; that year's draft produced linebackers Quincy Black and Adam Hayward, both of whom re-signed with the team before the 2011 season and are still valuable members of the squad and potential starters.
Goode, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, comes from a family full of talented football players. His father, John Goode, played tight end for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980s and was, coincidentally, also a fifth-round pick. Najee Goode's brother, Tariq, played at Youngstown State and then professionally in the AFL and another brother, Wakeem, was a starting linebacker at Hampton University.
Taken five picks into the fifth round, Goode was the 140th player chosen overall this year. The Buccaneers have three picks remaining in the 2012 NFL Draft, barring any further trades. They are due to pick fourth in the sixth round, at #174 overall, and in the seventh round they possess a pair of picks, numbers 212 and 233 overall.