TAMPA – The Buccaneers are finding it increasingly difficult to curb their enthusiasm regarding the play of rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin. Even coach Dirk Koetter, who has spearheaded the effort to temper all expectations this offseason, has gone hyperbolic when speaking of the Bucs third-round draft pick out of Penn State.
For example, when he was asked this week about one of Godwin’s top traits – his ability to win jump-ball battles against defenders along the sideline and inside the red zone – Koetter admitted he was getting a bit ahead of himself but still couldn’t stop from comparing Godwin to one of the game’s most accomplished receivers.
“He does compete for the ball and it’s way, way, way too early to say this, but in that respect, Chris reminds me a little bit of Roddy White,’’ Koetter said of the Falcons receiver he worked with during his three-year stint as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta.
“(Godwin is) similar (in) size (to White). He’s a big guy that competes for the ball, and Chris is off to a fast start. I mean, let’s temper it until we get the pads on, but (Godwin) did it last year at Penn State and he’s off to a good start here. That’s a good sign.’’
Another good sign: Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who was the head coach of the Falcons when White was in his hey-day in Atlanta didn’t necessarily disagree with Koetter. Smith didn’t come right out and compare Godwin to White but he did say the two wideouts had similar traits.
“He is a big, strong, athletic wide receiver,” Smith said. “He is a guy that is tough to cover because (a defense is) going to have match-up issues because of the size. I have been impressed with his ability to go up and compete for the ball. He competes for the ball as well as anybody I have been around. Yeah. The 50/50 balls, he is going to come down with.’’
As well as anybody. Again, it seems the Bucs just can’t stop from being wowed by Godwin. It’s early, though. As Koetter said, the Bucs haven’t even begun to play real football, the kind where the players have pads on and are getting hit on every play.
And perhaps this would be a good spot to point out that Godwin, who projects primarily as an outside receiver, has had the chance to shine largely because, until this week, DeSean Jackson wasn’t around to take snaps away from Godwin.
Godwin, who was projected as no more than a good “No. 3 receiver” by a lot of scouts coming out of college, probably won’t be starting for the Bucs this year unless disaster strikes and either Jackson or Evans goes down.
Still, it’s good to know that he’s got some top-level playmaking ability. The question, of course, is whether he can keep displaying that ability when the pads go on and later when the lights go on.