Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and WR Chris Godwin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.
SIKKEMA’S STAT OF THE WEEK
“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”
That is a sentence that Rotoworld’s NFL Draft analyst, Josh Norris, has in his Twitter bio. It’s a simple saying, and yet, I think we forget it all too often in this ever-growing draft culture that has seemed to explode in popularity over the last five or so years on the Internet.
With more interest in the NFL Draft, naturally, more smart people have joined the conversations. Each year we see new examples of ways to do just what that first sentences states is difficult to do: “predict the future.”
Past Cover 3 columns have featured a few of those outside-the-box approaches. In the first Cover 3 I wrote for PewterReport.com, we took a look at wide receiver market share, a formula created by Bill Jones to try to quantify what wide receiver production really means in college, and how there’s more to just saying “Player X caught this many passes during his career.” We took this formula and brought it to the NFL using Mike Evans’ first three season as the examples. In it, we were able to identify when he was being used most efficiently.
In a later Cover 3, we featured the work of Justis Mosqueda, creator of the Force Players formula. This formula was one of the first of its kind to really diagnose what Combine numbers meant for pass rushers, and how certain thresholds do exist in the NFL where, if there is a part of a player’s athleticism scores that fall short, it drastically hinders their chance at success in the NFL. In that Cover 3, we put Missouri defensive end, Charles Harris, into the film room to see if he would pass such a test – this was before the Combine.
Today, I’m bringing in another new project to show to you all (if you haven’t seen it already, which, chances are you have). The formula for this Cover 3 is called Reception Perception, an in-depth, very detailed film chart created by NFL.com’s Matt Harmon. This project turns prospect tape into math and success rates using a wide receiver route tree. In it, Harmon watches multiple games of a college prospect, charts every single route they run, whether they get the ball or not, and determines how much success a receiver has on any given rep with separation, precision and overall athletic ability. Those numbers are then put into a route tree chart and player traits begin to take shape through percentages.
If you’ve never seen a wide receiver route tree before, this is what it looks like.
These are essentially the nine routes a receiver can run on any given play (screen passes and anything that is a double move aren’t on the route tree since those are combination routes). The chart also identifies the names of each of the routes. So, take a look, bookmark this page, come back to it and read it, and when you talk to your friends during the games this season you can sound super smart – or you can better yet at the play-by-play guys on TV.
When putting a prospect’s tape under the Reception Perception project, you’ll notice which routes a wide receiver runs best, therefore establishing “where they win” as a receiver. This helps identify traits and overall projection to the next level. The more dominant or diverse a receiver is in the Reception Perception project, the easier it is to see what they can do at the next level – remember, in the NFL draft, it’s often strengths that get stronger, not weaknesses that disappear as prospects go from college to the NFL.
The reason I chose to feature Harmon’s work in this week’s Cover 3 (it was only a matter of time) is because one of his project’s favorite wide receivers from the 2017 draft class was none other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ third round pick, Penn State’s Chris Godwin. In fact, after Godwin’s part of the project was finished, Harmon labeled him, “The most underrated WR in the 2017 NFL Draft.”
Let’s get into some of the numbers and see why.
According to Harmon, in Godwin’s six-game Reception Perception sample from 2017, he took 56 percent of his reps at left wide receiver and 44 percent at outside right – Godwin was never lined up in the slot during any play of those six games. Harmon notes that one aspect of his formula that has evolved over the years is putting more weight into wide receivers who only play on one side of the field. He uses Dorial Green-Beckham and Kevin White as his examples. Harmon was high on both of these players when they were coming into the league due to their exceptional Reception Perception results, but both have not panned out to their Reception Perception success. He thinks that exclusively playing one side of the field could be a big factor why. So, Godwin playing an even amount on both sides was a good start.
Though Godwin’s numbers from 2015 to 2016 were down on the stats sheet, his efficiency was not. Godwin only saw targets on 25.9 percent of the routes he ran during the six-game sample, but converted on almost 70 percent of the passes thrown his way, which was much lower than normal on the usage end, and much higher on the efficiency end.
The chart shown above is Godwin’s usage chart, not his success chart. This chart shows which routes he ran out of 100 percent of the time. The red simply means that it’s below the average percent of routes run from a two-year starters, the yellow is right around the average, and the green means this prospect ran a greater percentage of this route than other wide receivers.
This is where Godwin’s Reception Perception sample starts to get interesting – in a good way for Bucs fans.
Most receiver prospects have their highest route percentages on slants, curls, posts and nine routes. But, if you’ll see, those were the four routes that Godwin ran at a below average rate (again, not in efficiency, in volume). Godwin’s go-to routes were actually the dig (12.7 percent), comeback (13.3 percent) and flat (9.8 percent). What’s good about that, is that the dig and comeback routes are two patterns in the route tree that require most detail and technical precision to run, not only effectively, but naturally as we see Godwin do. Godwin’s usage chat alone speaks to how crisp he is as a route runner, because, if he wasn’t, the team wouldn’t ask him to run such routes – remember, he did this on both side of the field while means he’s fluid and precise moving in any direction.
Now we take a look at Godwin’s success chart, and oh boy is it a beauty.
We’ve heard Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter say before that Godwin actually tested better athletically with straight line speed at the Combine than they thought he would (they were already high on him before then). That makes sense when you see that the only route he didn’t run with an above average score on was the nine route. However, knowing that he has the speed to separate (ran a 4.42) on some occasions only makes this route tree look even better. It’s as if success on nine routes is just a teachable thing for him to break coverage and get to that straight line speed we know he has – you can teach the technique, not the speed.
It’s ironic because most of the time, it’s the straight line speed that prospects are obsessed with and choose to make their bread and butter. Godwin has it, but he choose uses his athleticism in different ways. His 86.4 percent success rate on slant routes and 84.6 percent success rate on post routes show he has the ability to not only veer direction quickly, but keep his speed. Then, taking that a step further, his 90.9 percent success rate on dig routes and 87.5 percent success rate on out routes show he can change direction at a 45 degree angle and still create separation. Finally, the 87 percent and 82.6 percent success rates on comeback and curl routes prove he can completely turn his body around faster than a cornerback can read and react. Each of those three phases of the route tree require more changeling athletic explosiveness and body control. Godwin has it in all three phases, and that’s what separation and “where he wins” comes from.
In some parting notes, Harmon wrote that, though Clemson’s Mike Williams was known as the top “go up and get it” man in the class, Godwin recorded an 85.7 percent contested catch conversion rate, which was the highest percentage among prospects charted the last two years (even more than Williams). Harmon goes on to explain that Godwin is one of the best in the class as playing and catching through traffic, and has good football instincts to get the ball at its highest point.
Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Getty Images
Godwin posted a 73.5 percent success rate vs. coverage in the six-game sample, which was the fourth-highest score in the 2017 NFL Draft class and falls at the 76th percentile among prospects he charted over the last two years. Godwin also posted an 85.5 success rate vs. zone coverage, which was again the fourth-highest among prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. Plus, Godwin’s 68.8 percent success rate vs. double coverage was above the 80th percentile.
With the numbers and the charts, it’s easy to see why Harmon marked Godwin as one of “his guys.” Harmon pegged Godwin as a player who deserved to go in the early Day 2 second round, so Tampa Bay getting him all the way at pick No. 84 in the third round had to be one of draft weekend’s biggest steals for him.
Knowing the stats and the success rates, let’s look at the film ourselves and watch those numbers come alive as we take Godwin into the film room on the next page.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he’s not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
Great Cover 3 on a player who college football analysts seemed to like alot but an NFL-focused fan like me lacked the basis for my own opinion. I think there will be plenty of opportunities for Godwin on the outside. DJax is not the classic #2 wideout, he is a game breaker who will probably need a few breathers after serial deep routes. He is also not the kind of WR you want run blocking on the edge. I think this is the year Humphries gets ousted from the slot a fair amount, but not for Godwin. Evans and DJax both line up in the slot and they create terrifying mismatches when they do so. Godwin can make an impact in his rookie year by exploiting the opponent’s second best outside CB on running downs or when DJax is otherwise getting a breather
Really nice piece Trevor. I enjoyed reading it so much, I’m disappointed…disappointed that training camp is months away! Can’t wait to watch Godwin in camp. I know it’s early, but his smooth route running, great hands and football speed kind of reminds me of Reggie Wayne.
Haha! This was a creative compliment.
I’m excited to see how things shake out as well.
Finally a Cover 3 I can be proud of…
This article made me like Godwin even more. Good job.
As for the slot… on that I have NO idea. The two things I liked about Godwin (now love) are his ability to make contested catches and that (often very subtle) ability to use his body to fake out defenders. He sometimes looks like an NFL route runner. Is that the skillset to put in the slot? My gut reaction is no, he’s an outside WR.
Matt Harmon’s the man. Glad his RP project was there to help me explain Godwin’s fit.
Godwin would probably be a future #1 on some other NFL team rosters. He is that good with this agility, speed and route running. He has a tendency to jump for balls thrown over the middle but if he learns to run in stride for more YAC opportunities he would be a dangerous player in the slot.
I agree with others more likely to see DJAX in the slot with Godwin on the outside with Evans. But the possibilities are endless for this offense.
Another benefit of playing Godwin in the slot occasionally is highlighted on the last few gifs you posted; his blocking ability. I could see him sealing off a corner or safety from a slot position on running plays to the outside in his direction.
Your articles are so ahead of everything else on the site. Literally, cover 3 is the only thing I visit pewter report for. Almost gave up on them. You write the Best articles regarding Bucs media and everyone knows it. Might’ve time to consider going solo. SR 5 has been a lot of fluff for a while unfortunately, mailbags are canned questions and what does Cook do there again? You need to turn away from the dark side my dude. Remember the motto.
Woof, that is a harsh paragraph. Just brutal.
To me, PR’s strength has always been team news and access. No one is better at getting a feel for where the team is leaning when it comes to changes in personnel and/or management. They’re really, really good at that. And that is hugely valuable as a fan of the team, IMO. When one report says one thing, and PR’s says another, nine times out of ten, what PR says is what ends up happening. There’s no source I trust more when it comes to the Bucs in those ways.
I think you’re too harsh, but I kinda agree with some of what you say. The analysis side of things has always been rough here, IMO. I mean no offense, but when basically every single case someone other than Trevor makes for a draft prospect starts with their college stat line and really NEVER ventures anything related to specific prospect trait analysis, that’s rough.
I even get what you mean about the Fab Five, although I don’t think it’s THAT bad. For me, recent ones have been too quote heavy. Like, yes, I find what Bucs players, coaches, etc. have to say on subjects, but it feels like some of the sections recently have just been an open forum for whoever the interviewee is to say whatever they want, and to do so in a ton of words. I do still think there is some good content in many of them, though.
Mailbags are a bit canned. They’re typically pretty low hanging fruit type questions, I agree. But, to be fair, they can only work with what’s given to them in pieces like that.
I think all of this is probably why they hired Trevor. I’ve had my issues with PR over the last year or two, but I think it’s a tremendous strength to recognize a weakness, identify the solution, and implement it. The play, player, and scheme analysis stuff has been BAD for a while. Trevor definitely raises the bar on that side of things for this place. I applaud SR and whoever else was involved in the decision to hire Trevor for making that call.
Fab 5 is always hit or miss because there is only so much material to fill a lengthy article with like 45+ times a year. Sometimes I love the Fab 5, sometimes it feels like filler. There’s usually a few things in there that I enjoy even on the off weeks.
At the end of the day, all the media does basically the same thing. I’ll take what PR does any day over the majority of the rest of the local “media” that just shares stories from other places and puts their not-so-educated spin on it. At least Scott, Mark, and Trevor are intelligent, well-versed, and generally likeable guys.
I do agree with your praise of the analytical aspect that Trevor has added to the site, just strongly disagree that it’s all PR has to offer.
I appreciate the love, guys! But, even though I bring my own niche of how to cover a team with X’s and O’s, I’m still learning new stuff every week from Scott and Mark in terms of how to be a beat reporter. I’m still a rookie, and they’re the pros. I’m just bringing my own flavor.
We’re going to cover the Bucs like no other outlet is this season with some new series, videos, all that jazz. So stick with us!
Trevor, the whole team at PR kicks butt and it’s exactly what us Bucs fans look for, especially those of us not from the local area. Can’t wait to see this team in action, I actually get to see 2 games this year, one in Buffalo and one in Tampa.
SR regularly posts about religion, politics, and race relations. The rest of his material is just quotes from interviews he does. I dont read his trash anymore. The board was never the same after Jim Flynn left. The message board and the cover 3 still make the site worth visiting though.
While I agree that Trevor is the hardest working columnist on the crew at the moment, why the hostility?
As for my thoughts on Godwin, just get him on the field. X,Y,Z… the Bucs receivers are all cross trained as far as I’ve heard for this very reason. No matter who’s playing the slot between Evans, Jackson or Godwin, I don’t see Adam getting many snaps unless we go 4 wide. And I don’t see us doing that as often as 2 tight end sets. My prediction is by year end that Godwin will have the second most snaps at WR behind Evans and that Humphries doesn’t break 25 receptions.
Another terrific ‘Cover 3’ Trevor. Once again your film breakdown segment is particularly insightful, as it was with O.J. Howard last week. It really succeeded in highlighting Godwin’s strengths as a WR. This guy, at the college level, appears to have no weaknesses. He has 4.42 speed, is an excellent route runner, can play all three wide out positions, as evidenced by his ‘reception map’ and completion percentages and is a really physical blocker. I loved the clip where he ‘lit up’ that blitzing LB. He also has excellent fluidity of hip movement. The way he juked Adoree Jackson so badly, he actually fell on his ass, was epic! As was the tremendous head fake when he burned the cover safety on that cleverly disguised corner route. Definitely a mouth watering prospect to consider how the all round skill sets and huge upside potential of both OJ and Chris Godwin, will be incorporated into the Bucs offense next season. Great work Trevor, I look forward to the next edition of ‘Cover 3’!
I think he can be a perfect compliment. Hope he plays as confident with the Bucs as he did at Penn State.
Always enjoy your work Trevor. Leading up to the Draft, Godwin seemed to get far less attention than the top four or five in this class, in spite of his stellar play at Penn State. Looking forward to seeing how Dirk uses him along with the rest of the “weapons” Winston now has at his disposal. What a difference between this arsenal and the collection of pass catchers Jameis lined up with last season.
I’m reminded of that line in the movie Crocodile Dundee when the guy pulled out a little switchblade and threatened, “I’ve got a knife”, to which Dundee replied, “That’s not a knife……..this is a knife” as he pulled out a huge shiny blade and waved it in the guys face.
I would have finished the quote for you if you had said this to me in person.
Loved the article Trevor. to me Godwin is an outside WR who will spell Evans and Vjax if they get tired. This kid has really good potential.
Route Tree? Looks more like a Route Flower.
I’m glad you got thumbs down for this, John.
I gave myself a thumbs up. I know what a flower looks like, and that diagram is a flower. The rest of you are kidding yourselves.
Really like the addition of the physical WR to go along with the blocking skills of the new TE! That will really help out the running game-
maybe help Doug actually reach the end zone on one of those long runs this season ?
Trevor, this was very insightful! Being able to apply math to predict success changes how NFL scouts build their boards. I would expect that the potential player “drive” and football love is what catapults a Teams desire to select a player after having this knowledge. My question though is why was he not projected higher with the attributes that you have shown us here? The Scouts and Teams had to have access to this same data… there had to be some perceived downside to Godwin for him not to be slotted higher by all the Teams.
By the looks of Godwin’s diversity of route running it would seem that Hump will be more of an insurance policy/depth than an every down player moving forward. Having D-Jax in the slot makes more sense both in confusing the defense but also allowing Godwin to set the block on the linebackers, of which I can not wait to see!
Excellent article and I am glad you are putting these types of articles out. Nice work PR!!!
I think the fact that he didn’t play to his Combine speed kinda freaked teams out, like they couldn’t connect the dots. Same thing with Jordan Willis. If teams get thrown off at any point in the process with something they didn’t expect, I’m sure it weirds them out. I did not think Godwin would have made it out of the second round, so I really don’t know. That’s just a guess.
Great job man…
I love how you add the little clips into the article…my only criticism is that I wish that you’d give us some lowlights too man! We can handle it! Godwin does a lot of good things but most fans will never see his lowlights until it surprises them on Sundays.
When you do a Cover 3 on Justin Evans (hopefully) it will be criminally irresponsible to not include the lowlights!
In scouting, the principle is that you focus on what a guy *can* do, but I hear what you’re saying! Evans will have his hits and misses, and when I watch the film, I won’t shy away from pointing them out – you can expect that same kind of treatment when the Cover 3 goes into the season each week.
The best part about film is that it’s fair (it can’t lie). I will always do my best to not let the translator (me) do the lying.
Thanks Trevor – I concur with @briandorry55. Bucs fans (like probably fans of most teams) have a tendency to see our players through rose colored glasses. There is some reason every NFL team passed on this guy, more than once, and chose 10 WRs before him. That’s still not bad in the grand scheme of things, but it would be good to understand the raw analysis with lowlights too.
I will keep that in mind!
Analytics made interesting! Nice job Trevor that was great to read
I’ve learned a lot more football since you’ve come on board, Trevor. Thanks!
That’s the goal!
Good job, Trev. I always enjoy Cover3.
I think it would be a good idea to cross train all the WR. First, it makes opposing defenses do extra work and they get multiple looks. Second, different players can fill in due to injury.
Excellent read; good stuff TS! My preference out of the three options presented would be to put Godwin in the slot. D. Jackson isn’t built to block and receive hits from LB’s all season from the slot. If O.J. Howard were a smallish HB type TE like many of the other TE’s in this draft class I would say put him in the slot, but he’s a well rounded TE so I would not play him in the slot either. Given the information presented in this article I would put Godwin in the slot to take advantage of this speed, size and route running ability.
ROD GOD. Awesome
Getting to the last page of the piece – I really think whether or not we should put Godwin in the slot depends on what Koetter ideally wants from the position. Dirk runs a heavily vertical offense, but he had plenty of varying concepts that he utilized for the position last year with Hump as the only player remotely worth having on the field in that spot. If Dirk wants to push the ball down the field more with what his slot receiver does, then Godwin is the clear and obvious choice. If Dirk wants to create better opportunities for YAC on high percentage throws with shorter catches on drags, screens, zigs, etc, then Hump has a much better chance of winning the spot than he otherwise would. Either way, I expect a truly open competition that makes for a great battle in camp.
I definitely think the drafting of Godwin makes our use of DeSean Jackson more interesting. Without Godwin, we could basically never feel good about putting DeSean in the slot, as the guy who would take his place on the outside wouldn’t be much of a threat at all. If Godwin can execute his role outside, then we can much more creative with both DeSean and Mike being utilized inside more frequently.
I agree. I will be an open competition for the X, Y and Z receiver positions. And not in a bad way like someone is going to lose their job, but more in an open canvas and creativity way (including with Howard). They’ll experiment for the depth of each, too.
Trevor, have you or anyone else at PR gotten an impression from someone one the offensive staff (whether that’s Koetter, Monken, Bajakian, or someone else) as to what skillset they’d most like to see featured from their ideal slot receiver? I really think the answer to that question would tell us who between Hump and Godwin has the head start on the job going into camp in a couple months.
No, or not a fair one, at least. Only Dirk’s second year, so this year and next we’ll get a good look at who he *really* wants as a slot by seeing who they bring in or give playing time to. First year coaches are always just playing with the previous coach’s roster.
Interesting that all the offensive players are very good blockers!
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