Oakland Raiders Player Profile: Travis Goethel
David Wilson – May 28, 2012
As an Oakland Raider fan, how much do you know about Travis Goethel? Well if things go as predicted, many of the Raider Nation will get to know him a lot better than they do now. Goethel is the man most likely to replace Rolando McClain as Oakland’s starting middle linebacker.
That is if he can stay off the injury list.
I say that because my prediction is that McClain doesn’t take the majority of the snaps at middle linebacker for the Raiders defense this season, either due to his incarceration and subsequent suspension, or because his poor performance on the field and his behavior off the field gets him cut from the team.
It is also worth noting that Goethel is the kind of player that Reggie McKenzie would have drafted had he been General Manager in 2010.
Goethel is a player in many ways similar to this year’s fourth round pick Miles Burris, in that he is a physical, high motor player who is under-rated athletically, and has very few flaws in his game. He does not bring the pass rush value that Burris does, but is more suited to playing in the middle, and can actually fit in at any of the three linebacker positions.
At Arizona State, Goethel was extremely durable and productive in his four year career, starting all 50 games for the Sun Devils. The questions around him going into the draft evaluation process in 2010 were related to a perceived lack of athleticism, and had coaches wondering if he was fast enough to play in the NFL.
Most of those concerns were negated on his pro-day, when he ran a 4.58 40, (on grass) and timed a three cone drill that would have put him 3rd for linebackers at the Combine.
He is solid in zone coverage, and he is a better fit in that scheme than when he is asked to play man to man.
His strength though, is in run defense.
Goethel won’t blow you away with highlight reel hits, or knock opposing defenders silly like Aaron Curry does on occasion, (remember that Marcus McNeil hit? Awesome…) but he is a very solid run defender with a physical style and excellent tackling technique.
He has the instincts to quickly diagnose plays, takes good angles to the ball, then get off the block and make the tackle. That is something that this Raiders defense has been missing for some time—a solid and reliable presence in the middle.
At 6’ 2” and 240 pounds, he isn’t a big linebacker, but the size he does possess, he makes count.
Coaches can trust Goethel to be in the right place at the right time due to his good football instincts and tremendous work ethic.
After missing the first eight games of 2010 with a back injury, he began to work himself into the rotation, (he played 90 snaps) at "Will" linebacker, (a.k.a. Weak side) where he was splitting time with Quentin Groves. A serious knee injury in training camp last year put him out for the season, but if he can stay healthy this year, he has a chance to break into the starting line-up as middle linebacker.
The fact that he injured his knee at the start of camp last year, and not mid-season, means he should have had ample recovery time to get back to his best, rather than having to rush a return.
Goethel has taken some first team reps in camp, and appears to have the inside track to replace Rolando McClain at this point in the off season.
Oakland is a comfortable place for him to be, as he went to High School in Vista, California, (about 50 miles north of Tijauna, Mexico).
If he can have some luck and stay healthy, he looks like the right type of player to excel in the Dennis Allen/Jason Tarver regime.
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