Zaviar Gooden: Tennessee Titans Take OLB in 2013 NFL Draft, No. 97


September 1, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers linebacker Zaviar Gooden (25) runs with the ball after an interception against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions during the first quarter at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans needed to add linebacker depth in the 2013 NFL Draft. But was there a more important need—and better player—then who the Tennessee Titans took with the No. 97 pick?

Round 3—and Day 2—ended when the Titans used that pick on University of Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden. At 6-1 and 234 pounds, Gooden was a team captain who played through injuries for most of his senior season. He’s projected as someone who will play weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He’s more of a coverage linebacker and has limited experience as a pass-rusher. If Gooden doesn’t start, he could become a great special-teams contributor.

Did this pick shock you? According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, so was Gooden:

Here’s the draft profile for Gooden. According to the “bottom line:”

Gooden has the speed to cover a lot of ground at the next level, as well as surprising strength and form tackling to bring down big ball carriers in the open field and handle himself in traffic. Injuries hampered his senior season, but that combination of attributes helped him lead the Tigers in tackles as a junior (85, 7.5 for loss, three sacks) and should allow him to earn a top-100 grade as a potential starter on the weak side of the formation. Even if he doesn’t immediately earn a spot as a starter, he should be a valuable contributor on special teams while being groomed as a linebacker.

Some Titan Sized Twitter followers—myself included—were hoping for one of the remaining defensive linemen. Alex Okafor would’ve been a nice addition to a DE rotation that lacks any depth. The Titans can’t rely on Keyunta Dawson and Scott Solomon as their No. 3 and No. 4 defensive ends.

After Gooden was chosen with the No. 97 pick, Twitter user @jtdav73 made an interesting observation about the pick:

How do fans feel about this pick? Do you agree with the comparisons “Zach Brown 2.0?” Is Zaviar Gooden the player who can shut down opposing tight ends? Maybe the Titans will address their defensive line with No. 107?

Rounds 4-7 on Apr. 27. That will conclude the 2013 NFL Draft.