When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin with the 84th overall selection of the 2017 NFL Draft, they drafted a guy who was regarded as a “natural hands catcher with strong claws” by NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein.
In his first two seasons, Godwin has proven Zierlein right and has himself on the cusp of entering the national conversation as one of the leagues rising stars in the world of big name wide receivers.
Of course, there are benchmarks wide receivers are expected to hit before getting serious consideration among the best in the league. 1,000-yards receiving, 100 catches and double-digit scores are three of the most obvious. Achieve two of those three, or even get close to the trifecta really, and the football watching world will take notice.
Godwin hasn’t hit any of those just yet, but his growth from year one to year two, and Bruce Arians’ excitement surrounding the receiver mean his growth from year two to year three could be just as substantial even though it won’t likely be as large from a statistics standpoint.
Three more touchdowns in 2019 than he had in 2018 (7) and a 200-yard increase in yards and he’ll have two of the three earmarks satisfied. Sure seems possible as we stand here in May.
100-receptions are a little farther away, but again, given Arians’ early excitement about what Godwin can do under this coaching staff I wouldn't bet against it. Even if he doesn’t reach the century mark in receptions, fans of the sport value quality over quantity when it comes to catches vs what you do with those catches.
In 2018 only eight receivers brought in 100 or more receptions while guys like Keenan Allen (97), Mike Evans (86) and T.Y. Hilton (76) all failed to hit the century mark while still maintaining national notoriety as some of the best in the business.
Of course, before a receiver can turn passes into yards and touchdowns, they have to catch the ball. And in this category, Godwin is already among elite NFL company.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Godwin was targeted 91 times which ranks him tied for 29th in the league with players like Calvin Ridley and Willie Snead IV. Not elite company, but good company.
His ‘Drop’ grade (90) from PFF was one of just twelve scores to reach 90 or more in the category. Joining him in this category are names like DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas and Adam Thielen. Elite company.
In fact, Godwin was credited with just one drop in those 91 targets, ranking seventh among receivers overall, but tied him for second-fewest among those with the same or more targets as him. Again, names like Antonio Brown join him in this distinction.
Godwin’s 2018 catch percentage (the amount of catches made compared to the targets received) wasn’t as high as he or quarterback Jameis Winston would like it to be at 64.8%. However, with only one drop by Godwin, improving this number will rely on things like timing, schemes and another year in training camp with a full-season together will help this connection substantially.
In his rookie season, he was tagged with two drops by PFF on 54 targets. So one on 91 targets the following year is a testament to the growth and potential the Bucs have with their third year receiver.
Of course, the best in the business display another talent: consistency.
Godwin has the hands and ability, but it takes more. Consistency with what he’s already done, lessons built upon from years one and two, and an exciting new coaching staff looking to maximize Godwin’s abilities will hopefully put it all together to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers another receiver in the conversation among some of the league’s best.