Work in Sports
Vols CB Goodrich fits with Cowboys
Posted: Sunday April 16, 2000 04:05 PM
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- When Dwayne Goodrich was 7, he went against the odds and bet on the Dallas Cowboys. On Saturday, the team took a gamble on him.
The Cowboys took the Tennessee cornerback with the 49th overall pick and felt lucky to get him. Goodrich likely would've been a first-round choice had he turned pro after his junior year, but a so-so senior season caused him to slide.
Goodrich hurt his back lifting weights last summer and went into the season a bit out of shape. He also was behind the learning curve on a new defensive system that toned down his specialty, man coverage, in favor of more zones.
Dallas is convinced Goodrich, who also has a minor heart condition, is healthy and coaches believe the 5-foot-11, 198-pounder will be a good fit for their defense, which emphasizes man coverage.
"I've never felt more comfortable making a pick," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "We had Dwayne Goodrich targeted very early in this process and we never wavered on that," coach Dave Campo said. "In my wildest dreams, I did not believe that he would drop to us. So I'm very excited."
With its first- and third-round picks traded to Seattle for receiver Joey Galloway, Dallas had to wait more than seven hours before making its only selection of the day.
It probably seemed twice as long for Goodrich, who saw three other cornerbacks taken in the first round and two more go ahead of him in the second round. He released his pent-up emotions after the Cowboys called with the good news.
"I cried for about 15 minutes," he said. Part of the joy was because the Cowboys have long been Goodrich's favorite team, even though he grew up in Oak Lawn, Ill. He remembers betting $10 in 1985 that the Cowboys would beat his hometown team, the eventual Super Bowl-champion Chicago Bears.
"They lost 44-0," Goodrich said, laughing at the memory. "I've been though the rough years and through the Super Bowl years. I've definitely followed the Cowboys for a long time."
Goodrich was an impact player immediately at Tennessee, recovering four fumbles and making two interceptions as a freshman. He started his last three years.
The Vols won the national championship his junior season, with Goodrich returning an interception 54 yards for a touchdown in the title game.
He decided he was too young to go pro, so he returned for his senior year. The season didn't go as he expected. In addition the injury, he was arrested for disorderly conduct but the charge was later dismissed.
Scouting director Larry Lacewell joked that Dallas had inside information because of its Tennessee ties. Lacewell is a former defensive coordinator of the Volunteers and secondary coach Bill Bates played at Tennessee.
Mining those sources, the Cowboys were convinced that in their system Goodrich could be as productive as he was his sophomore and junior years. They love his combination of size and speed (4.45 in the 40-yard dash).
"Big cornerbacks are hard to find," Lacewell said. "When you get one who can run, you're fortunate."
Goodrich feels fortunate to be playing for a team with a style he likes.
"They play lot of bump and run, a lot of the things we did at Tennessee my first three years," he said. "I'll fit in real well."
The Cowboys didn't have Goodrich ranked as a first-rounder, but he was among their top three cornerbacks in the draft. Jones said he turned down two trades to move down because he was so pleased to get Goodrich.
Dallas needs cornerbacks because All-Pro Deion Sanders isn't likely to return next season. Free-agent signee Ryan McNeil will help, but with Kevin Smith and Kevin Mathis coming off injuries, the Cowboys still need more depth.
Jones said he'd be willing to take another cornerback with their first pick Sunday, the 19th pick of the fourth round.
Dallas is more likely to address other needs, such as linebacker and receiver.
"We have got to hit a home run," Jones said. "We've got to really make this the best second day we've ever had. As far as I'm concerned, we are prepared to do that."