Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden had a long wait during the NFL Draft on Friday night, but it was worth it.
Gooden was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the final choice of the third round, a compensatory pick that was the 97th overall selection.
“Oh man, I was ecstatic when I got the phone call,” Gooden said. “I thought I would get picked right around there somewhere in the third round. I’m pretty happy about it.”
Gooden, a 6-11/2, 234-pounder with exceptional speed, was the second Tiger to be taken in the draft, following defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who was picked by the New York Jets in the first round. Gooden is the 23rd Missouri player under coach Gary Pinkel to be chosen in the NFL Draft and sixth in the last three years.
In 2010, Gooden led the Tigers in tackles with 85 as a sophomore. A three-year starter, he finished his career with 256 tackles, 201/2 tackles for loss, four sacks and five interceptions. He missed two games last season because of a hamstring injury.
“He’s got the speed of a corner,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “I don’t think he has great instincts, but when he sees it, there isn’t a faster linebacker. If he learns how to take on a block, he’ll be a home run.”
Gooden showed off his athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine when he paced linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.47), three-cone drill (6.71 seconds), and short shuttle (4.18 seconds), and pumped 27 bench-press reps.
Asked how his Combine time boosted his stock, Gooden said: “You can’t teach speed and you can’t tackle someone if you can’t get to the play. I think it helped out a ton and I think it opened some eyes to some teams. I think it helped me out quite a bit.”