2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Penn State WR Chris Godwin

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Chris Godwin/WR/Penn State — 6’1”, 210 Lbs

The Good

-Strong route runner with limited wasted movement in and out of breaks
-Good feel for working open in scramble drill; has knack for finding holes in coverage
-Powerful possession receiver that knows how to shield defenders away from the ball
-Willing blocker that packs a punch coming downhill
-Good vision and strong lower body in RAC situations
-Strong hands to clamp down on football in traffic
-Productive No. 1 receiver that received heavy attention
-Durable receiver that rarely comes off the field

The Bad

-Struggles to win 50/50 balls in the air
-Rarely high-points football, allowing defenders to get back into plays
-Limited route tree; must expand that at the next level (most of that due to scheme though)
-Has to double catch the ball at times, which could be a concentration issue when the ball is in the air
-Needs to improve ability to beat the press; has a hitch in get-off that allows DBs to get hands on him at the line

Bio

-Tied for No. 4 on the career touchdown receptions chart with 18 scoring grabs in three seasons
-Eighth player in PSU history to eclipse 2,000 career-receiving yards
-Ranks No. 4 on the career receiving yards list with 2,404 yards
-No. 7 on the career receptions charts (153)
-Owns nine career 100-yard receiving games, with three in 2016, five coming in 2015 and the other coming against
Boston College in the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl
-Has at least one catch in 38 of 40 career games, including a stretch of 19-straight games with from 2014-16
-Became just the third Penn State wide receiver (Bobby Engram, Allen Robinson) to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a single season, finishing second on the season receiving yards list with 1,101 yards

Tape Breakdown

There’s a lot to like on film with Penn State receiver Chris Godwin, who had a stellar career with the Nittany Lions under James Franklin.

As a three-year starter, Godwin put up some impressive numbers with Penn State despite playing in a stale offense his first two years. But after the switch to Joe Morehouse this past season, the Penn State offense exploded, and so did Godwin, who became just the third receiver in school history to gain 1,000 yards in a single season.

The way that he did it was most impressive as he was used exclusively as a possession receiver that feasted around the middle of the field in a high-powered offense, allowing him to rack up yards and catches as the No. 1 receiver for the resurgent Lions.

As a very good route runner, Godwin was able to put himself in great position time after time to make plays in the middle of the field. By possessing the ability to run great routes, it allowed Morehouse to move the talented receiver all over the field, including out of slot.

Take this clip from 2015, a year before Morehouse came into the fold. Out of the slot, Godwin is able to create separation on the Michigan State linebacker thanks to great footwork at the top of his stem, along with the ability to get in and out of his break quickly, showing Christian Hackenberg his numbers.

After making the catch, Godwin showcases the ability to make some plays with the ball in his hands. That’s not an easy first down to pick up, especially with a guy like Michigan State’s Montae Nicholson flying downhill against you.

Need more examples of great route running from Godwin? I’ve got you covered with a few here.

This is a simple stop-and-go from Godwin, but the footwork at the top of his stem on the stop really sells it.

Look at the way he sinks his hips towards the ground, forcing the safety to think he’s actually running a stop route. Once he has the safety caught off guard, Godwin quickly flips his hips back in the other direction and gets back up to full speed, leading to an easy touchdown in a crucial game.

Later on in the game, Godwin strikes again against the Michigan State secondary.

This is a post route from Godwin, but his ability to chew up a ton of ground quickly on the corner sitting back on his heels leads to the score.

By chewing up so much ground to get right up on the corner quickly, Godwin is able to make a subtle move at the top of his route, wiping clear with his hands before running free into the secondary.

Despite being a great route runner, there are times where Godwin has to make the difficult catches in traffic with a defender all over him. More often than not, Godwin would wind up with the catch thanks to his ability to shield defenders away from the ball with his body while also possessing powerful hands to clamp down on the football for the tough catches.

According to NFL Network’s Matt Harmon, who came up through the football ranks on the back of his #ReceptionPerception formula for receivers, Godwin has the best contested catch rating of any receiver in the last two draft classes.

Not bad for an under the radar guy with very little hype compared to some of the top names of the last two years.

A big reason Godwin can make the contested catches is because of his tremendous hand-eye coordination as well.

Just look at some of the catches he made in the Rose Bowl against Southern California if you don’t believe me.

That being said though, he really struggles to high point the football, which allows defenders to get back into the play, forcing him to make some very tough catches.

But when looking at his combine numbers there’s no doubt that Godwin will improve in the jump-ball area at the next level, which should round out his game completely.

When not actively trying to catch the football, Godwin possesses a serious edge as a blocker and might be the top guy at his position in this class in that category.

I understand that this is a crack-back block on an unsuspecting linebacker, but that’s some serious pop from a receiver on a much bigger linebacker moving full speed downhill.

Although Godwin doesn’t land these types of blocks often, he’s very consistent in his ability to size up a defender, fit his block and stay locked on without drawing flags, which is key at the next level.

Plus, he seems very willing to stick his nose in there on running plays to try and spring a teammate, which is something you don’t always see from receivers in college, let alone the NFL. To most, it’s all about catching the football.

Not Godwin.  It’s all about the team success with this guy.

Overall, Godwin is a sneaky good receiver that likely improved his stock with a very impressive combine showing, but like always, it will come back to what he shows on tape, and what he shows is a consistent receiver that is durable and willing to do whatever is asked of him.

Godwin’s game reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin in his prime. Not flashy, but very consistent and always able to come up with the big catches when his team needs him most.

Projection:  Early Day Two

Games Watched:  at Michigan State (’15), vs. Michigan (’16), at Indiana (’16), vs. Michigan State (’16), vs. Southern California, Rose Bowl (’16)

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Kevin King

  • smokeybandit

    1) “The Bad

    -Struggles to win 50/50 balls in the air”

    2) “According to NFL Network’s Matt Harmon, who came up through the football ranks on the back of his #ReceptionPerception formula for receivers, Godwin has the best contested catch rating of any receiver in the last two draft classes.”

    1) “Has to double catch the ball at times, which could be a concentration issue when the ball is in the air”

    2) “A big reason Godwin can make the contested catches is because of his tremendous hand-eye coordination as well.”

    Do you guys read the stuff you write?

  • Boots

    I’m a PSU fan so I’m biased but would love Godwin.

  • LucasY59

    He had a impressive combine, but I dont think the Steelers are looking for a WR until later in the draft, he would be a guy they would typically be interested in if they didnt have more pressing needs at other positions

  • toonasteel

    I was thinking the same thing…..sigh

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Looks good. Too bad he will no longer last until round 4

  • Steve Johnson

    If he’s there in the 3rd, gotta pick him. But from what I’ve been reading, he will be long gone by the time the Steelers pick in the 3rd.

  • Paddy

    If he’s durable I would go second round as he won’t lats til 3.

  • Josh Carney

    Read everything I write. Let’s break it down in simplest form so it’s easy for you to understand.

    1) I view 50/50 ball as jump balls. Goes hand in hand with “rarely high points the football.” Harmon’s piece also takes into account DBs being in hip pocket or riding his back, or catches in traffic, not just jump balls. Really simple for you to be able to play through contact and make contested catches a lot, but struggle at winning jump balls.

    2) You can have great hand-eye coordination and still have to double catch the ball. He makes the ridiculous catches look easy, but can struggle at times to make the routine ones. Case in point: had to double catch the ball a lot on crossing routes, yet made a spectacular one handed catch against USC in the Rose Bowl and then caught a tipped pass while spinning around on his touchdown against USC.

    Understand now?

  • Josh Carney

    Let’s not pick and choose sentences out of my piece.

    Here’s the whole thing. Makes a ton of sense.

    “Despite being a great route runner, there are times where Godwin has
    to make the difficult catches in traffic with a defender all over him.
    More often than not, Godwin would wind up with the catch thanks to his
    ability to shield defenders away from the ball with his body while also
    possessing powerful hands to clamp down on the football for the tough
    catches.

    According to NFL Network’s Matt Harmon, who came up through the football ranks on the back of his #ReceptionPerception formula for receivers, Godwin has the best contested catch rating of any receiver in the last two draft classes.

    Not bad for an under the radar guy with very little hype compared to some of the top names of the last two years.

    A big reason Godwin can make the contested catches is because of his tremendous hand-eye coordination as well.

    Just look at some of the catches he made in the Rose Bowl against Southern California if you don’t believe me.

    That being said though, he really struggles to high point the football,
    which allows defenders to get back into the play, forcing him to make
    some very tough catches.”

  • Ace

    Thanks for the write up, I’ve had my eye on this fella since I started looking at Carlos Henderson. Can’t remember who, but one of them guru guys did a large write up on Henderson and it seemed like Godwins name kept coming up as a guy to watch as well. Love his blocking. Seems like he’s pretty polished already too. Would love him on PS, just not sure if the asking price is going to be doable. He will be gone mid 2nd early 3rd my guess. Not sure they can pull the trigger that early on a WR. I tend to hope if they do go wr, its 4th or 5th. But what the heck do I know. Did you hear any chatter about which WR the PS might have talked with during the combine? Anybody know when official visits can be made? To me, that’s when we can really start slotting guys and positions in.

  • AndyR34

    When are you going to take your replacement for Deebo, W. Gay, and Cockrell? There won’t be many good ones at 3.30

  • Shane Mitchell

    Good write up! I learned a lot I didnt know about this guy, I thought we were looking at him as another outside receiver to take the top of of defenses, but now I see there is much more to his game, this kid has versatility and would be an excellent replacement for Markus Wheaton in our offense.

  • Applebite

    Not so sure, this draft is deep enough, that he would be a forgotten player on a few boards….