When the Chicago Bears drafted Eddie Goldman in the second round (39th overall) out of Florida State this year, many called it a reach.
At 6-3, 332 pounds, most predicted Goldman to be a one-dimensional player in the NFL. With his size and immense strength, draftniks were in unison regarding Goldman's potential as a run stopper but most believed he'd have to come off the field on passing downs.
On the official NFL.com draft profile for Goldman, the following quote is posted from Mike Mayock, one of the industry's premiere draft analysts:
"I think he's stout at the point of attack. The question is, can he play in sub packages or is he just a two-down run stuffer?"
Goldman's profile concludes with the following paragraph:
His power at the point of attack and ability to discard blockers and actually make plays rather than just eating space will have 3-4 teams very excited about their potential nose guard of the future. However, his lack of pass-rushing prowess could limit just how high he rises on draft boards.
No doubt, Goldman has been solid as a run stopper. While he's lacked overall consistency, he's shown the ability to two-gap at the point of attack, shed blocks and finish plays. When you have that type of playmaking ability from a 332-pound interior defensive lineman, you have something special. If he ever develops consistency, he'll be one of the best run-stopping nose tackles in the NFL.
"He's been getting better. I think that's what impresses me the most is that he's been getting better throughout the season from game to game, learning his craft a little bit better," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said recently. "He's hanging in there, not letting the physical wear and tear of the season get to him, and his ability to improve I think is what has impressed me the most."
Yet Goldman has also shown prowess as a pass rusher, something very few anticipated.
Goldman has rushed the passer 237 times this year, per Pro Football Focus (PFF). His 4.5 sacks are fourth most on the team. He's accumulated 24 total pressures this year (sacks + QB hits + QB hurries), meaning he's pressured the quarterback 8.1 percent of his pass-rush snaps.
According to PFF, Goldman's Pass Rush Productivity (PRP) is seventh best in the NFL among defensive tackles. Even better, Goldman is the only player in the Top 10 who plays in a 3-4 system, and no player in the Top 10 weighs as much as him.
Goldman has a higher PRP than both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. Those players are 3-technique defensive tackles, along with the rest of the Top 10. Goldman is a 1-technique space eater whose primary job is to stop the run, yet he's outplaying penetrating DTs whose only job is to rush up-field.
"He's using his hands, getting off better, his feet are in better positions early in the down," Fangio said. "All of the little things usually help you get better."
Goldman is having a rookie season to remember and it's highly doubtful anyone is still questioning his ability as a pass rusher. This is a best-case scenario for a rebuilding defense, as Goldman - who is just 21 years old - can anchor Chicago's defensive line, on all three downs, for the foreseeable future.