Drew Boylhart March 2008

Tavares Gooden   LB   Miami



Tavares has the size-speed ratio the scouts look for in the perfect in LB.  He has good strength and speed and does a solid job wrapping up and tackling.  He has great overall athletic talent for the next level.  Tavares has played all the LB positions and he has performed well at both WLB and MLB.  He has an excellent north-south burst and explodes into the ball carrier when he goes to make a tackle.  Right now, Tavares looks like a good fit as a MLB in a 2-gap 4-3 defense.  He really flies to the ball providing you can keep him free of dealing with those big guards coming off the line and cutting him.    



Tavares just hasn't had enough repetitions at any one LB position to have any immediate impact for the team that drafts him.  I currently list his LTI as no sooner than 3 years.  He has had some shoulder injury problems and for an LB this can be a problem.  As a MLB, he currently has so much to learn that it would take too long to mention them all in such a small space.  His football maturity is way behind what it should be at this point of his career because he has been moved around; however, he does have talent.  At MLB, he struggles defending against the pass but I think if he gets the repetitions and coaching that can be corrected.      



This is a case of a kid who has decent athletic talent, but hasn't developed that talent because he has been moved around so much.  On the field, Tavares is taking a lot of false steps and his defense in coverage is rough; however, I think there is a hell of a LB in there somewhere that just needs to get repetitions and some good coaching.  I guess the real question is does he have the work ethic?  I think Tavares has been relying on his natural athletic talents to get along and it has served him well until now.  Now, he is going to have to start to work hard and I'm not sure he understands that.  This is a personal gut feeling of mine and not something I see from a lack of effort on the field.  I have seen many LB's moved around from position to position.  Once you see a player improving through the year at his new position, you know the kid is a good player and it's just a matter of time before he starts to impact at the new position just like he did in his old position.  With Tavares, he started out well enough, but then leveled off and I saw no improvement at all in defending against the pass as the season progressed.  So I suspect he stopped working at it and was satisfied with what he had accomplished so far.  Maybe the best spot for him is as a WLB?  I'm not sure, but I am sure that this kid has good talent and if he can stay on the field and get some repetitions, some team just might get a surprise.  However, for me, his LTI is a little long to draft him in the 1st three rounds and his shoulder injuries concern me.