Unless you’re a reporter or have attended one of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ training camp sessions open to the public last season, then chances are you have yet to see first-year wide receiver C.J. Goodwin, who was first given a chance by the organization upon the recommendation of Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount.
The good word from the Steelers great helped him get his foot in the door, but it was certainly his potential that got him a spot on the practice squad last season despite not playing at all during the preseason. It’s a spot that he kept all year long, even while Derek Moye, who was on the team in 2013 and even caught a touchdown pass, was released.
There’s clearly something awfully intriguing about the 25-year-old Cal U alumnus that has kept him on the team’s radar for exactly a full year as of yesterday, having been signed on June 4, 2014 as an undrafted rookie.
The fact that he’s 6’3” with a recorded 40-yard dash time of 4.41 and a vertical jump of 40” certainly plays in his favor. Though he can add to his 190-pound frame, he is clearly a raw physical specimen that is tempting to mold, which has no doubt played a role in the longevity of his employment with the Steelers.
Apparently, however, he has been turning heads during practice this whole time, which is something that the vast majority of us have not gotten the opportunity to see yet for ourselves, making him arguably one of the most intriguing players to watch when the preseason finally roles along.
Dale Lolley wrote yesterday about Goodwin as a potential sleeper candidate, describing him as a player who “wowed teammates seemingly once a week with a leaping catch”, which is made all the more impressive considering the accolades that Martavis Bryant was gathering for his own acrobatic feats.
Lolley writes that Goodwin told him that his year on the practice squad was of enormous value in boosting his confidence and fine-tuning his craft. Now, with a year under his belt, it appears as though he feels he has as much right to be on the roster as anybody else, which is the first step to belonging.
Lolley added his own observations, saying that his “route running looks to have improved mightily and caught up with his athleticism”, with the latter half of that sentence certainly being revealing.
Goodwin was very raw, having had very little playing experience in college for those who have already read his backstory. No doubt he has worked extensively with Richard Mann over the past year transforming himself into a legitimate wide receiver.
It will be interesting to see how long he can keep this up, and if he can battle for a roster spot. Last year, the Steelers felt that the competition between the fifth and sixth receiver spots were so close that they had to keep both, which may be Goodwin’s best chance to make the 53-man roster, so actually getting playing time in the preseason this year is obviously essential.