The Missouri Tigers have been producing some quality defensive line prospects over the last few seasons with the most notable being Sheldon Richardson, the first-round pick of the New York Jets in 2013. Last year, Missouri sent Kony Ealy and Michael Sam to the pros, leaving Markus Golden as the name to watch along the Tigers’ defensive line this season.
Markus Golden, DE, Missouri | #33 | 6030, 260lbs | Sr.
-Was a rotational player in 2013, playing 40% of the snaps;
-Had 55 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 13 TFLs;
-Played two seasons of JUCO ball producing 10 sacks and 26 TFLs last year;
-Played running back and linebacker in high school.
The first thought that popped into my mind when watching Golden was “tweener.” Standing an estimated 6030 and 260 lbs, he presents with a stocky, compact build moreso than with the traditional length that you want to see from a 43 or 34 DE. And while he lacks ideal defensive end length, he also comes up “light” to project as a defensive tackle. He’d be a very intriguing defensive tackle prospect if he can bulk up to 275-280.
Athletically, Golden is an exciting player with very good pop and explosion in his movements. He has a very good first step off the snap and has the power to put the offensive lineman on skates. It doesn’t take long to see Golden’s running back pedigree, as he displays really good short-area quickness and coordination when rushing the passer or pursuing the run.
Against the run, Golden is a bit light and can struggle to hold the point, but he consistently gets a good jump off the snap and is a real threat to split the gap and make a mess of the backfield. He flashes moments of stardom, but it’s really tough to figure out where he fits. At times, he looks like he could be an elite 3-technique (if he was a few pounds heavier.). At other times, he just looks too weak and short (length) to be an every-down defender. But overall, he is a really exciting defensive lineman who I’m excited to watch develop against the run with an expanded role this year.
Against the pass, Golden has the makings of a double-digit sack guy who will become a household name sooner than later in 2014. He wins with his quick and explosive first step and simply overwhelms the opposing lineman with active and effective hands. He’s also plenty strong enough, possessing the ability to get into and under the lineman’s chest and can shed him with ease when bull rushing. I’m concerned about his NFL projection as a pass rusher because of his length; he’s a tough evaluation because he is going to dominate the college game with a physical makeup that might not be as successful in the pros (against NFL tackles). His expanded role in 2014 will help clarify his projection.
Overall, Golden is one of the players I’m the most excited to watch develop this year. He has the “juice” that I covet and he’ll get the snaps that are needed to grade him out with a lot more confidence. At this juncture, Golden appears like a player that will need a dynamic season to overcome his tweener status. He needs to prove that he’s the kind of talent that transcends traditional measurables. I’m not sure he’s capable of that, and he might need to eventually bulk up and target the 3-tech as his future role.