Lions’ Godwin most likely to go tonight

By Cory Giger

The way his stock has risen in recent months, Chris Godwin almost certainly will hear his name called in the NFL draft tonight during either the second or third round.

It’s no secret to Penn State fans what Godwin can do as a receiver — namely everything — but he wasn’t getting a ton of draft attention as last season went along.

Then came the Rose Bowl, and if people didn’t know much about Godwin going into the game, they surely did afterward. The junior turned in a sensational performance in the thrilling game, a 52-49 USC win, as he caught nine passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns.

Social media was filled that night with posts about how much money Godwin likely made himself in the draft. It was no surprise, then, that he declared early a few days later.

Godwin pulled down a circus catch after a ball was tipped and turned it into a 72-yard touchdown in the Rose Bowl. He made a seemingly impossible one-handed grab with his left hand on a ball thrown behind him in traffic going over the middle. He ran down and snared a TD grab in the back right of the end zone.

Those three catches were as good as you’ll see from a receiver in one game. And they came at a perfect time for Godwin, who surprised even himself after admitting he had been so sick from a stomach ailment that he was throwing up earlier in the day.

“He had a huge game, obviously,” PSU coach James Franklin said after the Rose Bowl. “The catch that he reached back behind him and made an unbelievable catch, the bobble for the touchdown, he’s a special player, there is no doubt about it. … Godwin’s made plays all year long.”

As good as his Rose Bowl performance was, it didn’t guarantee Godwin would rise up draft boards. His showing at the NFL Combine did that, as he ran a sizzling time of 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash while also showing his strength with 19 reps on the 225-pound bench press.

This is a deep receiver class, and while Godwin isn’t at the top of it, he’s been listed as high as the fifth-best wideout, which could land him in the second round.

Godwin reportedly has worked out for more than a dozen teams, and that also likely increased his stock as he’s a very calm, well-spoken, intelligent and thoughtful person.

He’s only 6-foot-1, which could hurt him in the eyes of teams looking for bigger wideouts. But his 209-pound frame and ability to shake off or even drag would-be tacklers will catch teams’ attention.

“The only thing that really matters is what actually happens on draft day, so I try to stay away from (all the pre-draft hype) as much as possible,” Godwin told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “I’d rather take things day by day. I’m trying not to think too much about the draft and when I may get the call, but obviously as we get closer, the harder and harder that becomes.”

Godwin displayed an excellent all-around skill set during his Penn State career. He received a lot of attention for his uncanny ability to come down with a high percentage of 50-50 balls, and along with that, he was as sure-handed as they come, could run any type of route and became a very good downfield blocker.

When Allen Robinson left Penn State three years ago, everyone wondered who would step up and be the program’s No. 1 receiver. Godwin was the one who did so, and now that he’s gone, the question of who will replace him is a big one moving forward for the Lions.

“I came to Penn State not only to pursue a degree from the greatest university in the nation, but also to play in the best atmosphere in college football and bring Penn State back to prominence,” Godwin said when declaring for the draft. “Through a lot of hard work over the last three years, I’d like to believe that myself and my brothers have successfully accomplished that.”

PSU’s draft hopefuls

WR Chris Godwin

Measurables: 6-1, 209, 4.42 40-yard, 19 bench reps (225)

Analysis: Excellent hands and strength, faster than he looks, rarely drops a ball, comes down with contested throws, humble and quiet receiver

Projection: Late 2nd round

DE Garrett Sickels

Measurables: 6-3, 261

Analysis: Gave up final year of eligibility to turn pro and could have used one more season of college for more development, can be explosive pass rusher, needs work stopping run

Projection: 6th round

LB Brandon Bell

Measurables: 6-1, 233

Analysis: Good playmaker in college who was always around the ball, forces turnovers, has battled injuries, not overly fast, not highly projected in mock drafts

Projection: 7th round

— Cory Giger