Prior to the 2018 Draft I had done quite a bit of scouting on Godwin Igwebuike. I watched almost every game he played along with a number of interviews he had done. He went to Northwestern which has one of the best journalism programs in the country so there were many programs with hopeful collegians interviewing Godwin. He was also interviewed on the Big Ten Network as well as the NFL Network. He was well-spoken and always talked about the team, rarely himself.
The first thing you notice is that Godwin Igwebuike is a smart kid with a boatload of talent. He played both offense and defense in high school racking up 1,985 rushing yards with 29 TDs with 15 receptions for 179 yards on offense. On defense he had 5 INTs (1 pick six) along with 79 tackles and 2 forced fumbles; all in his senior year.
Northwestern is a quality school, but its football program lags behind most of the schools in the Big Ten. Godwin would have probably received better coaching at other schools, but his education was his priority.
When you watch him on tape Igwebuike is a strong tackler who has the speed to run down almost any ball carrier. On this play here he is in man coverage with the TE #88 Mike Gesicki but has the ability to read the action then make the tackle on the play.
You can see that when Gesicki blocks down on the ILB Igwebuike doesn’t hesitate in run support. He must race by #74 Steven Gonzalez (avoiding his block). Then he is able to take the legs out from under Saquon Barkley causing him a 4 yard loss. This play shows good recognition skills along with great short area speed and quickness.
Igwebuike made a lot of plays at Northwestern, but his defense was on the field a lot so he had ample opportunity to make some good tape. His tackling was ahead of his coverage abilities when he was in college, and with the Jets being his fourth team in a year I would think he has not progressed much in that area since he became a pro. Here again he is in coverage and does a nice job of reading then reacting to the play.
This is a well designed bubble screen to the outside receiver with blockers in front. Igwebuike comes from over 10 yards back and is fast enough to get to the spot before the center can make a block on him. He makes a really nice tackle on a shifty little player for a minimal gain on the play. Again he flashed that good speed to get to the play before the block to make the tackle.
Igwebuike is an excellent athlete with good feet and oily hips to change direction. His problem is in recognizing the play (pass play) as he doesn’t read route combinations well. When the play is in front of him, and he has an assigned player he does much better in coverage. Here he has the slot receiver (who runs a very poor route) in man coverage and is able to make the play.
Now this is a wet field so the receiver is trying to maintain his footing, but the route is rounded off. He telegraphs his intentions, and there is no real deception. Igwebuike knows exactly where he is going. Still this is a nice job as Igwebuike guards against the inside move by overplaying that way so the receiver cannot cross his face. He then is able to flip his hips quickly to change direction and make a play on the ball without interfering with the receiver in sloppy conditions.
Igwebuike has the speed to play as a deep safety, but he is not that fluid in space. He seems very tight in his movements like he is thinking to much and not just reacting. Here he is playing as a single high safety with under two minutes to play in the half against Wisconsin, not the most adept team in the passing game.
You can see that Igwebuike is a bit awkward in space. He sees the TE come open, but he doesn’t go directly to the man. He is faster than the TE by quite a bit so as long as he gets to him he should be able to defend the play. He is helped by the fact that the pass is a wounded duck, just thrown up for grabs and is also woefully short. Igwebuike is a far superior athlete to the lumbering TE with a 35 1/2” vertical so out jumping him was no problem. He is not the greatest open field runner, but he maintains possession which is a win for the defense.
Igwebuike is best near the line of scrimmage since he is a good tackler and things are right in front of him. As long as he has distinct responsibilities he can make the play because of his physical abilities. I think he can overthink things when he has options in coverage, but if you give him a task he can usually do it and do it well. Here he has backside contain on a misdirection play. His responsibility is covering the flat.
This is not some lumbering TE. This is Ian Thomas. Thomas is a quality athlete who stepped in as a rookie with the Panthers when Greg Olsen went down and had a year similar to Chris Herndon with 36 receptions and 2 TDs. Igwebuike is easily able to cut back in front and make a play on the ball. He did it so easily you wonder whether he could have slipped out in front of Thomas with two hands and intercepted the ball and taken it to the house.
Igwebuike has talent and skill but I believe he lacks confidence in himself to make more plays. He (in my opinion) is not afraid of his abilities but he is afraid to fail. Everyone who plays in the secondary is going to get beaten. It doesn’t matter who you are. The greatest to play the game get beat sometimes. You have to be fearless to play in the secondary. You can’t play scared. It is like a pitcher in baseball who is afraid to give up a home run. If you are afraid to throw the ball over the plate you are going to walk everyone and not be successful.
Here Igwebuike is in man coverage against a TE who runs a lazy crossing route that he easily cuts in front of for an interception. He picks off the QB who was the 6th pick in the 2019 Draft and an opponent in the first preseason game on Thursday, Daniel Jones.
This is like stealing as the TE crosses in front of Igwebuike and is easily caught up to. By playing in the hip pocket of the TE Igwebuike is right in the passing lane for the INT. You can see when Igwebuike knows exactly what he needs to do he is so very fluid in his movements. Here he follows the TE and cuts in front for the INT like he was on the offense. There is no tightness in his movements, and he looks like an All Pro making the play.
Igwebuike played for 4 years at Northwestern starting 43 of his 50 games there. He made 324 tackles (214 solo), 13 TFL, 7 INTs and 23 passes broken up. He was a leader in the locker room and usually was asked to give the pregame speech to fire up the troops.
I was truly surprised when I saw that Igwebuike went undrafted in the 2018 Draft. I was also surprised to find that he has been signed and released by the Bucs, 49ers and the Eagles (probably where Joe Douglas knows him from) in less than a year. his is a good, smart kid who works hard and is athletic. Look at his Combine numbers, and the %s are how he ranks against all other safeties.
I sort of understand that as a safety who plays near the box often, that Igwebuike is a little smaller than some would prefer. I know that Douglas must feel the same way about Igwebuike as I do as the Jets will try and nurture him. Plenty of players have been cut numerous times by many teams and still developed into All Pros. Let’s hope this is just such a situation. When I saw the Jets had picked up Igwebuike I was surprised and happy all at the same time. Let us hope that spending some time with Jamal Adams will give him the type of self-confidence to become the player I know he can be. If not the Jets wasted very little. It is worth a shot.
What do you think?