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Miami Dolphins Draft Pick Film Review: Davon Godchaux

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Josh Houtz and I take a gander at DT Davon Godchaux’s game tape, the Miami Dolphins selection at #178 in the 5th round.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We’re always trying to spice things up at this Miami Dolphins think tank we call The Phinsider.

Did you see the work Chris “The Duke” Early put into his film reviews for Isaac Asiata, Cordrea Tankersley, Raekwon McMillan, and Charles Harris? That’s a tough act to follow.

I decided to recruit fellow Phinsider contributor and Phinsider Radio co-host Josh Houtz to join me in some film review, and have the opportunity to give our own perspectives on the same footage.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what to call this segment...

  • “2 Dudes, 1 Tape” sounds like it might be the male version of 2 girls, 1 cup.
  • “Dudes on Film” sounds like an incredibly poor attempt at recreating the magic of “Men on Film” of In Living Color infamy.
  • “Friends Looking Through the Lens” implies that Houtz and I actually like each other.
  • Other possibilities included: “2 Spliffs and Some GIF’s” and “A Video with a Sh***y Bro”.

I’d appreciate your help in the Comments Section about what to call this, as well as any feedback you have. In my mind, the more opinions we get on the raw data (the tape), the richer understanding we have on a player’s strengths and limitations. We’d like to see if this “2 person/1 tape idea” has any merit, and if we should continue to do something like this into the regular season. Please let us know! (Note: future collaborative game tape analysis will likely involve dissecting important plays instead of specific players, which will allow more avenues of interpretation and disagreement.)

As we progress through the rest of the draft class, when you talk about Day 3 guys, it brings an interesting intersection of success stories and predictable failure. Players on Day 3 drop for any number of reasons, but most of them deal with questionable tape, inferior measurables, and/or injury or off-field concerns. Question marks are abound for these draftees. And yet, some of them make rosters, some become valuable members of their team, and some achieve relative levels of greatness.

Let’s get down to Davon Godchaux (pronounced god-chaw). Here’s his scouting profile by NFL.com.

Godchaux was a part of a strong DL rotation throughout his career at LSU, kept fresh by the bevy of bodies and diversity of talent. He projects as a rotational player, so what skill set can we expect to see when he gets snaps?

I will show a few of Godchaux’s better plays from the 2016 contest vs. Wisconsin and the 2015 contest vs. Auburn, courtesy of draftbreakdown.com. To be honest, there was more “meh” tape than the flashes that I saw, but the flashes were intriguing. Of course, I’ll let Houtz speak for himself below when we get to the specific plays.

Godchaux’s good tape is very good, there’s just too much blank space in between. Matt Burke and the Miami Dolphins defensive coaching staff will have a 310-lb young man who played mostly 3-technique at LSU. A 3-year starter with a limited injury history, and he won’t turn 23 until November.

Without further ado...

The Tape

Houtz: The initial penetration is nice, as Godchaux occupies 2 or 3 blockers. This makes life easy on the linebackers, as they are able to shoot the gaps untouched, stopping the ball carrier for a critical loss. Another thing you notice in this play is his lack of explosion off the line of scrimmage. It seems as though Godchaux is a second or two late, but nonetheless he plays a crucial role in the tackle for loss. He may never be a starter in the NFL, but has the talent to be a role player in a Dolphins’ defense severely lacking at interior depth.

SUTTON: Wisconsin tries to block him with a TE, and he blows him back a yard and then gets low. He single-handedly takes out 2 or 3 of these blockers and totally screws up the RB’s angle. This is a 1-on-1 match-up he should be counted on to win, and he does, allowing the LB’s to swarm and make the stop. Helps the team get a big 4th down stop. He’s a complementary football player. He doesn’t show enough impact to draft him earlier, but it’s clear he has a knack for team football.

One thing you’ll see in his tape is a slow reaction to the snap. He’s still able to make the play here, but other times, he’s not as fortunate.

Houtz: Again, matched up one on one, this is a match up you expect Godchaux to win. His initial reaction isn’t nearly as sluggish as the play prior, and he uses his upper body and He-Man strength to lock up the tight end. As the ball carrier nears, Godchaux tosses him aside like a sack of potatoes. His technique on the tackle is picture perfect, exactly as I was taught at the Pee-Wee level. Miami’s defense was putrid against the run in 2016, and that is something he excels in.

SUTTON: He shows glimpses of brute strength. Again, they try to block him with a TE, which isn’t completely crazy because LSU did line up outside the tackle on occasion in their varied defensive front (he also lined up as a nose on some snaps). He gets outstanding leverage here, locks him up for a brief moment, and sheds him violently. Again, a match-up he should win, but he shows fantastic technique on this play. Wraps up with good form and gets the tackle. Too many times I see his pass rush stall after the 1st move, but in run defense situations, he’s a little more aggressive.

Houtz: I had to double check and make sure that wasn’t Michael Phelps, unleashing a vicious swim move on the Badgers’ offensive line. In this play, Godchaux gets a great jump off the snap, and uses his quick hands to break free of the opposing offensive line. Although he has plenty of room to grow, this is a good example of what the former LSU defensive tackle has to offer. Give him a chance to learn alongside Ndamukong Suh, and the sky is the limit.

SUTTON: When he gets a good jump off the snap, he can push the pocket and attack gaps because he does have strong hands (and one of the biggest set of hands in this DT draft class). This is definitely his favorite pass rush move. Hopefully with the defensive staff, he can add more moves and counter-moves to his repertoire.

Houtz: This is the kind of dominant play you’d like to see when your favorite football team was ranked 30th against the run last season. Godchaux gets a good jump off the line, and pushes the center back with relative ease. He had a very productive career at LSU, and sacked the quarterback 12.5 times over the last two seasons. That kind of production is something Miami would love to see out of a defensive tackle not named Ndamukong Suh. The coaching staff will have their hands full, but the potential is there to turn Godchaux into a successful pass rusher at the next level.

SUTTON: The center doesn’t even have a chance to plant, and quickly gets sent back-pedalling. Gets the easy sack. He’s one of the few interior DL in this draft class that had multiple 6+ sack seasons, but ironically enough, his pass rushing skills are behind his run defense, in my opinion.

Houtz: In this play, Godchaux gets stood up by the tight end. His lack of explosion off the line of scrimmage, results in a respectable gain outside. The tight end that he was able to dominate for much of the game, completely washes him out of the play. His strength is apparent on film, but consistency remains an issue.

SUTTON: Again, blocked by the TE, but this time, the TE wins (which should almost never happen 1-on-1). Godchaux’s poor burst out of the snap allows the TE to get under him and actually move him backwards. He’s a strong guy, and thickly built, but you don’t see functional play strength with enough regularity.

Houtz: Godchaux is so late to react, he’s still in his stance when the quarterback is ready to release the football. The effort he gives here appears to be “meh” and it’s not a good look for a player hoping to make an NFL roster. His hand usage remains a strength, but that initial burst off the line has to improve mightily. Overall, there’s plenty of good from the Dolphins fifth-round draft pick. However, he has a lot of refining to do if he wants to make the team’s 53-man roster.

SUTTON: Sorry to beat a dead horse, guys, but the reaction to the snap is poor. This is one of those plays you wish could be stricken from the record. Literally, the last person to move after the snap, and then has a lukewarm pass rush. He made plays at LSU, but his instincts don’t seem particularly sharp.

Houtz: Damn! This is what you’d like to see more of. His initial jump off the line is exceptional, and he uses his strength and large hands to drive the guard back. He then has the ability to disengage and wrap the ball carrier up for a short gain. Yes, Godchaux has plenty to improve on if he wants to have a role in Matt Burke’s defense. But plays like this prove that the traits are there, it’s just getting him to use those skills on every down.

SUTTON: Here’s one of those plays where you’re like, “why can’t I see this all the time?” Snap anticipation, superb leg drive, pushes the guard back with force and leverage. Gets a big paw on the ball carrier.

Conclusion

Godchaux’s flashes are quite impressive, and it’ll be up to this young man and the tutelage of the coaching staff to see if he can rise above his perceived ceiling of being a solid, rotational player. It’ll be an interesting training camp battle between Godchaux and a player selected 16 picks later at the same position: Vincent Taylor out of Oklahoma State.

I want to thank Houtz for taking the time to join me on this. Will we do a film collaboration again? Let us know if we should.

Either way, Vincent Taylor film study is on deck. First things first, what do you think of Davon Godchaux?

Fins Up,

Houtz and SUTTON