On the first day of 2013 Senior Bowl practice, the former Longhorn who drew most of the attention was defensive end Alex Okafor, but over the last two days, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has taken the starring role and is apparently shooting up draftboards -- mock draft boards, at least.
A report from SB Nation's own Louis Bien cited a unanimous consensus among observers that Goodwin had a fantastic day on Wednesday and compared him to another underutilized player from the 2011 draft who shot up draft boards and had a strong rookie season in Bills wide receiver TJ Graham.
The knowledge of Goodwin's sub10.4 100m speed has always been and scouts picked up on it a few times this season when Goodwin was actually able to get the ball, find a seam, and hit the afterburners to smoke any and all defenders in the immediate vicinity.
It's translated well to the field in Mobile, too:
Every time I watch Texas WR Marquise Goodwin take a rep, I think of spaceballs. "Prepare ship for ludicrous speed." #SeniorBowl— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 24, 2013
As analysts have been putting it, the question has always been more about other aspects of his game:
I was more impressed Wednesday with his ability to win at the line of scrimmage vs. press-coverage. Very athletic player when you watch him win on the release and get into the route stem.
That from the National Football Post and NFL draft analyst Matt Miller from Bleacher Report agrees that Goodwin has been catching the ball consistently and running strong enough routes to convince observers that he's more than just a one-dimensional speed merchant.
Besides all the talk about how well Goodwin has played, the difference between the ability to has shown at the Senior Bowl and his production at Texas has raised questions about his usage under Bryan Harsin:
If only Marquise Goodwin was used like Tavon Austin.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 23, 2013
In fact, Goodwin touched the ball only 33 times on offense all season for Texas, including only 13 carries, almost a quarter of which came against Oklahoma State. After the Cowboys overplayed the jet sweep, the Olympic long jumper only had one carry in the next three-plus games until Texas needed him to save them against Kansas.
And save them Goodwin did, helping ignite the first touchdown drive under Case McCoy with a 41-yard catch-and-run on the push-pass jet sweep and then the finishing touchdown run on the more conventional speed sweep.
In games against Ole Miss and Oregon State, the speedster had four touches for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the former and five touches for 132 yards and another two touchdowns against Oregon State, including the game-winner from David Ash on a play that Major Applewhite had run earlier in the game. Those five opportunities tied for the second-highest total that Goodwin had all season.
The lack of spring and summer practices for Goodwin, and some fall practices, as well, hurt him getting on the same page with David Ash and the quarterback issues in 2011 and at times in 2012 didn't help either.
Still, this writer happens to belong in the camp that believes that are no excuses for not getting your most dynamic players the ball. It was one that Urban Meyer learned as an assistant coach at Notre Dame when he saw the top playmaker for the Irish crying after the game when he was unable to help his team because he didn't get the ball. It changed Meyer, and he's never had those issues, even when he had all the speed talent in Florida that didn't fit in conventional molds.
The ultimate question, though, is where Goodwin will go in the draft. Miller is quite high on Goodwin, it turns out:
Marquise Goodwin's stock will be all over the place, team-to-team, but I'd grab him in Rd 2. That athleticism can't be coached.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 24, 2013
Roster Watch co-founder Byron Lambert believes Goodwin is more likely to come off the board in the 3-4 range, but could go higher if he can run in the 4.2 or 4.3 at the combine. The Longhorn Network has a good video with him breaking down the performances of both Goodwin and Okafor at the Senior Bowl.
NFL types may disagree, but these analysts get to spend some time around those scouts, too, so they do have the opportunity to take the pulse of some of the people who will make the ultimate decisions in April.