Former Steeler C.J. Goodwin Shows Up On Super Bowl Stage

during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a pair of their own former players on the field last night during the Super Bowl, one on either side, and both of them made an impact early on—in opposite ways. Most are probably more familiar with Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, who spent most of the 2014 season with the Steelers before being cut.

But you probably don’t need to be reminded at this point that Falcons cornerback C.J. Goodwin was in the Steelers’ organization in 2014 and 2015—as a wide receiver. A small-school product who went undrafted, Pittsburgh picked him up on the advice of Mel Blount and gave him a chance.

He didn’t get to participate a whole lot during the 2014 offseason because he was brought in late and also dealt with some injuries, but they did like what they saw. He didn’t even play in the preseason and yet they still kept him on the practice squad for the entire season because they wanted to see more of him in 2015.

They did see more of him the following year, but not quite enough, and he ended up not making the roster, nor was he retained on the practice squad. Nobody else signed him, either. He spent 2015 out of football. But the Falcons signed him to a futures contract and converted him to cornerback.

And last night, he made a couple of plays in spot duty. On the first drive after the Falcons scored a touchdown, he made two plays to force the Patriots offense back off the field. He broke up a pass down the right sideline on first down and then came up aggressively to cut the runner down on a screen on third down to force New England to punt.

Blount, meanwhile, got that previous scoring drive kicked off by fumbling the ball on the Falcons’ side of the field, which Atlanta ultimately capitalizing by getting into the end zone. It was important for the Falcons to be able to clamp down on Tom Brady and not let them get right back into the game. Goodwin provided that. At least in the first half, as we saw how the second half played out. But that doesn’t take away from what he showed.

Goodwin played a little over 100 snaps during the season on defense, but he played nearly 300 on special teams. He had a couple of pass deflections and less than 10 tackles during the regular season. That is pretty typical for a depth player. Perhaps somebody the Steelers wish they should have held on to.

But I wouldn’t blame them too much, at least personally. They were looking at him as a wide receiver, and they already had two wide receivers making the practice squad this past year. And they did convert Roosevelt Nix to fullback and find a role for him after the Falcons let him go.

Of course, the Steelers have some success with conversion projects. Alejandro Villanueva is a pretty big one, both figuratively and literally. It would be nice for them to have Goodwin. But kudos to Atlanta for seeing the defensive potential in him.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Steelers12

    never understood why the Steelers didn’t try him and Sweed at CB

  • steelburg

    I was definitely impressed he made a couple of nice plays. Good to see him doing well and I absolutely hate that the Patriots won again.

  • capehouse

    Probably cause they’re 6′-3″ and 6′-4″.

  • capehouse

    Only played 16 snaps but he impressed. He was the 5th CB for the Falcons in the game which is surprising. Maybe they should’ve used him a bit more. Probably wouldn’t have ever seen the field if Trufant didn’t go on IR.

  • Ike Evans

    That would take a level of foresight and player development on a foundational level that we’ve never really shown in this regime on defense

  • Steelers12

    like Sherman, we call them prototype corner backs and safeties

  • steelburg

    Corner back is probably the hardest position on defense to play and learn in the NFL. I didn’t expect them to try 2 guys out at the position who has never played it before. What the Falcons are doing with Goodwin is like a shooting star it never happens in the NFL especially at CB.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Falcons were unafraid to go man even having to play Goodwin, who just learned the position the other day. Good for him. The Steelers, however, are no closer to finding a way to stop Thomas Brady. Tomlin claims they don’t have the personnel to play man and succeed. I wish they would have played the Pats tighter and given them a chance to win.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Actually I think they’re a lot closer. They *do* have the personnel, they just weren’t ready to do it yet. Artie Burns still has a lot of growing to do and Cockrell has already done it, but was limited in its usage with Burns on a learning curve this year. If Golson actually plays in the slot this year, then there’s no reason the Steelers can’t play significantly more man coverage (when they need to).

  • popsiclesticks

    Sweed? Come on. Why not try every guy you’re gonna cut at another position. These guys are so few and far between.

  • popsiclesticks

    We focus so much on the ones that get away that we fail to realize that the Steelers have a 6th round WR on a hall of fame projection, a random tall guy playing excellent LT and an undrafted guy on a potential HoF track at OLB. We also talk up these late round guys at ILB.

    Most CJ Goodwins are working at State Farm by now. Can’t win em all.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I was mocking Tomlin again. If Goodwin can do it I think the Steelers could have done it a little more. If the refs are letting you get away with clutching and grabbing, you have to do it. Otherwise it’s like the teams are playing with 2 different sets of rules. No fair and no chance.

  • steelburg

    I agree. Goodwins sample size is so small that even those few plays he made in the Super Bowl may not save him from being cut next year. He is a good story to follow while it lasts IMO and that’s about it.

  • Steelers12

    because he had height to be a prototype CB like Richard Sherman who was also a WR in highschool and college

  • RyanW

    Last I checked Sweed ain’t playing DB anywhere else either…

  • MP34

    I think there is a lot to consider when it comes to converting Goodwin or any player 1). The desire: the player has to want to play another position. For example, Do you think Limas Sweed would want to play corner, especially with wrist surgery? Plus can he tackle, does he want to? 2) The risk: the player didn’t make it at position he played during his career. Being out of place in a new position makes you that much easier to cut. 3) The time: Goodwin is already age 27, his development window is closing. Does he or the team want to spend that kind of time on him, when new players are available? I think all these factors play a role.

  • Steelers12

    but you never know what he could of did, sometime you gotta think outside the box