Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin is an elite slot WR
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
Through his four seasons in the NFL, Chris Godwin has been one of the best slot receivers in the game. His unique blend of size and speed allow him to line up in a variety of ways in an offensive formation, but he lined up in the slot for 52 percent of his snaps last season. In this position, he is an extremely difficult match-up for opposing defenders, and his steady production proves it.
The Tampa Bay Bucs are strong believers in his abilities, assigning him the franchise tag this offseason worth just under 16 million dollars. They did not come to an agreement on a long-term deal, but that was likely due to the unknowns surrounding the salary cap moving forward. Regardless, he will be making the 15th most money this year for any wide receiver, and will likely get his long-term contract next offseason.
Consistency has been a staple in the young career of Godwin. He generates solid and steady output, with his numbers providing good reason to be optimistic about his future. Let’s examine his young career so far to demonstrate why he will return to being one of the best slot receivers in the NFL.
After being selected in the third round of the NFL Draft out of Penn State, Godwin would put together a respectable rookie campaign with the Bucs. Suiting up for all 16 games, he caught 34 passes for 525 yards and a touchdown. He showed great ability to get big chunks of yardage, as demonstrated by his 15.4 yards per reception average, including a long of 70 yards.
His second season in the league was better than the first. He again played in all 16 games, but this time recorded 59 receptions for 842 yards and 7 touchdowns. He continued to show big-play ability with 14.3 yards per reception.
Godwin put together the best season of his career in his third year in the league. He broke out in a big way 86 receptions for 1333 yards and 9 touchdowns. He achieved the highest yards per reception for any season with 15.5 and recorded the longest reception of his career of 71 yards. What makes these totals even more impressive is that he missed two games that season, so if he played the full 16 games they would have been even higher.
Unfortunately, Godwin missed four games this past season, but he was extremely productive in the 12 games that he did play. He accounted for 65 receptions for 840 yards and 7 touchdowns. Considering the time missed, paired with the fact that the Bucs roster was filled with more competition for targets than it was in the past, makes this an excellent output for Godwin despite the lower overall totals compared to a year ago.
Expectations are very high for Godwin this upcoming season, as they should be. He was a big part of the Bucs success last year and contributed to them winning the Super Bowl. Along with Mike Evans, he is a featured member of this offense who will receive a high share of the targets and figures to be in the team’s long-term plans, especially since he is still only 25 years old. The youth also indicates that he still has plenty of room to improve even further as a player.
At his peak performance, Godwin is among the very best slot receivers in the NFL. The list is short when looking at who is on his level, and he can justifiably be ranked as high as the top two with Tyreek Hill when defining a slot receiver as one who lines up in the position more than 50 percent of the time. His unique blend of talent and athletic ability will continue to be a problem for opposing defenses for many years to come.