The Philadelphia Eagles signed UCLA defensive back Randall Goforth as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft. The Eagles are using Goforth at cornerback despite the fact he played safety in college.
In order to learn more about the new Eagles defender, I reached out to SB Nation's UCLA blog: Bruins Nation. A few writers from the site were kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?
Nirya: A mixed bag. Goforth came to UCLA despite going to a high school considered to be a USC stronghold, so he was considered a major coup for the program (and to some extent, still is). Goforth suffered through some injuries, but also played well when healthy. Unfortunately for him, his last season was marred by inconsistent play while losing playing time to more-skilled underclassmen.
AnteatersandBruins: I felt like sometimes Goforth was all over the field playing multiple positions and other times you didn't even know he was there. Towards the end he was upstaged, as Nirya mentioned, and this may have played out differently if he had more time with Coach Bradley.
2) What are his strengths?
Nirya: Goforth's biggest strength is his instincts. He's not the most athletic guy, nor the biggest, but he ended up as a pretty good ballhawk during his time at UCLA because he routinely found himself in the right place at the right time. This also made Goforth much better as a safety than when he had to fill in at cornerback, because he was very good at diagnosing plays and getting into the correct spot. The other big strength I'd point out his his work ethic. Goforth was always one of the guys you'd hear about giving their all, never complaining about the situations he was put in, or upset that other guys were getting increased playing time at his expense. He'll give exemplary effort at all times, and I think that will help him out a ton at the next level.
AnteatersandBruins: Work ethic. Funny thing is I wrote that before even looking at Nirya's answer. This guy put in 1000% and was a Bruin to the core. The team came first and he never spoke about how the game affected him or what he was going through.
3) What are his weaknesses?
Nirya: Well, that strength was highlights his weaknesses - Goforth just lacks a lot of that top-level athleticism that the position requires at times. It's the reason Goforth routinely struggled as a cornerback, because faster, stronger receivers would just run right past him for easy pass plays. He also tends to be inconsistent, having plays where he makes the big hit or the big stop and following it up with a missed tackle or being too late to react.
AnteatersandBruins: He just wasn't as naturally gifted as others in some areas, which makes me think that was why he worked so hard. He knew others were naturally faster and bigger, so he put in what others may not have been willing to. He was sometimes burned by the opponents offense, but other times he was the one with the big play.
4) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
Nirya: Not really. I think any realistic expectations of Goforth's chances of being drafted would recognize that his lack-of athleticism and atypical size for the safety position would play a huge part in whether he would be drafted or not. (and also the shoulder surgeries that kept him out his junior year). I felt that, if he had a shot, it would have been very late, but the Bruins who did end up getting drafted were exactly the ones I expected.
AnteatersandBruins: Not at all. Unfortunately, NFL teams can't draft on work ethic. Guys like that tend to get picked up as UFAs. He may have a shot at a roster spot now that he was picked up by Philly, but when he gets to camp he'll be working his tail off to make the team.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
Nirya: If he stays at cornerback, I don't see his NFL career lasting long. Goforth spent the majority of his time in college at the safety position because the coaching staff recognized that he was best suited for it, but sticking at corner would expose his flaws much too quickly. That said, Goforth has a great work ethic and might be able to stick with a few teams just because of that.
AnteatersandBruins: Honestly, with NFL caliber coaching and his desire to succeed, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if his career turned out better than expected. He doesn't have the chip on his shoulder that a lot of rookies come in with and he isn't expecting to be handed anything. He will work hard and earn everything he gets.
6) What’s your impression of him off the field?
Nirya: Goforth was a great ambassador for UCLA. With a team in LA, you always expect to hear some things about guys who maybe party too much or have deeper issues, but none of that ever came out about Goforth; instead, you only heard praise from the coaches and other players when it came to Randall.
AnteatersandBruins: An absolute stand up Bruin. Bleeds blue and gold and any team would be lucky to have a guy like him around. He'll bust his ass and drag everyone else with him. He'll bring positivity to the locker room and use whatever fame and fortune that comes his way to better the greater good.
Randall Goforth highlights video below (warning: music NSFW)