When it comes to the draft process, one way to tell if a player loves the game is to quiz him on the game’s history, and see what he knows.
Chances are, teams will like what they hear from Florida State defensive tackle Eddie Goldman.
See, long before Goldman became a potential first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, his father, Eddie Muhammad, schooled him on the great players from the past who also played defensive line.
“He would be like ‘Who is this, who is that?’ ” said the 6-foot-4, 336-pound Goldman, who started playing defensive tackle in eighth grade. “He’d teach me the underrated guys like Lee Roy Selmon, who played for the Buccaneers. Merlin Olsen. Those were some of my favorites.”’
Goldman even wore No. 81 his freshman year in college because of defensive end Carl Eller, the former Minnesota Vikings great who was a stalwart on the famed “Purple People Eaters” defense.
But Goldman changed his number to 90 as a sophomore, he says, in honor of Tony Brackens and Jay Ratliff, with the latter actually being the player he most compares himself to.
“I know you haven’t seen him lately, but I still remember the days he was with the Cowboys,” Goldman said of Ratliff, a four-time Pro Bowler now plays for the Chicago Bears. “He’s hard-nosed. He’s so physical. I believe one time he was mic’d up in a game and one thing he kept saying is ‘They aren’t going to win the physical part of the game.’ That’s a thing I try to pride myself on, is being physical.
“He came up in big moments, too. That’s one thing I noticed about him. He’d get sacks in tight fourth-quarter games, that stood out to me.”
Brackens, who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars between 1996 and 2004, made the Pro Bowl in 1999.
“He was one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the ’90s,” Goldman said. “I kind of liked his game, too.”
Teams might be saying the same about Goldman, a two-year starter whose imposing size and surprising athleticism makes him a potential fit as a nose tackle in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes.
“Everything is important, but the point of attack is the most critical, critical part,” said Goldman, a former five-star recruit who declared for the draft as a true junior. “At practice, you practice your get-offs and hand placement, coming out of your stance in certain ways.”
Goldman’s strength at the point of attack, in fact, is a big reason he enters the draft with a reputation as a run-stuffer, those he insists he’s more than that.
“It’s accurate and I like it,” Goldman said. “I’m a good pass rusher, as well. I can stuff the run, and then on third-and-long I can get after the passer.”
Goldman began the process of proving it when he beat out two seniors for a starting spot as a sophomore in 2013. That year, he recorded 19 tackles (three for loss) and two sacks as a part of the national champion Seminoles’ defensive-line rotation.
He then improved on those numbers in 2014, when he says the light bulb really came on and he recorded 35 tackles (eight for loss), four sacks, one quarterback hurry and one pass breakup in 14 games.
“I think it was a result of my hard work and watching film, studying and stuff like that,” Goldman said. “Knowing my opponent. I expected it, but at the same time, I’m humble as well about it. It was a good year for me.”
Goldman hopes 2015 will be the same, but he is determined to enjoy the ride along the way. The draft process can be a tiring process for some — with the visits and workouts and endless amount of questions — but Goldman welcomes questions from teams, largely so he can show off his passion for the game’s history and its players.
“If they asked about it, I would gladly elaborate,” Goldman said. “It’s something I’ve been doing since I was 10.”
Inside the 2015 NFL Draft: nose tackles
From now until the draft begins on April 30, The Star will take a daily look at each position group.
▪ Ranking the top prospects: Find Terez A. Paylor’s detailed evaluations and rankings of the top seven nose tackles on our draft preview page at KansasCity.com/football.
▪ What the Chiefs look for: The nose guard in a 3-4 defense must be stout, strong and difficult to move. In a typical 3-4 scheme, it’s his job to occupy blockers and repeatedly handle double teams so the inside linebackers can make the play. The Chiefs let their nose tackle shoot gaps, so there’s some room for versatility here.
▪ Chiefs’ needs: The Chiefs have one of the league’s best young nose tackles in Dontari Poe, who is entering the last year of his original four-year rookie deal. The Chiefs can exercise a fifth-year option to keep him Kansas City in 2016. Still, the Chiefs need to think about adding a young, developmental player who can give Poe a rest for a handful of snaps — his workload is ridiculous for a man his size. It’s probably not worth investing in during the early rounds unless someone unexpected drops, but the Chiefs would be wise to add another young run-stuffer.
▪ Sleeper: South Carolina’s J.T. Surratt is squatty (6-1, 304) and won’t give you a ton as a pass rusher, but he’s powerful for his size and can help teams as a one-tech run stopper from the nose spot.
▪ Next up: Outside linebackers