DT Davon Godchaux sold Dolphins on himself in NFL Combine interview

Davon Godchaux was a great selection with the 178th pick. (AP)

DAVIE—There were good reasons why many NFL scouting departments were hesitant about LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. The Dolphins shared some of those reservations as they evaluated the possibility of drafting him.

There was an arrest for a complicated domestic incident last year that resulted in him being briefly kicked off his college team (charges were dropped, and he was reinstated), he made what many thought was an odd decision to leave school after his junior season and, quite frankly, he’s got a goofy personality.

But any skepticism the Dolphins had about whether he was serious about football vanished quickly when they sat down with him at the NFL Combine. General manager Chris Grier, coach Adam Gase and defensive line coach Terrell Williams were instantly convinced that Godchaux was the type of player they coveted.

It’s the only Combine interview Gase can recall in detail.

“I remember being shocked,” Gase said. “We were showing him tape and we weren’t even hitting play yet and he says, ‘Here’s what happened.’ He’d go through everything. ‘I screwed up here. I should’ve been (doing this)’

“I just remember Terrell saying, ‘How do you know what play this is?’ He was like. ‘This is all I do.’ I just remember being floored by that because he was so football—That’s all it was. That’s all he was about.”

That proved to be an accurate glimpse, and the Dolphins set their minds on pulling off a draft steal. As they saw him slide into the fifth round, they began to feel like they were the one of the few who knew what he was. They felt confident enough about being able to get him that they bypassed him with their first fifth-round pick, No. 164 overall, and jumped on him with the 178th selection.

Going into Sunday’s game against Denver, it’s clear he was the best value of anyone they chose. He might even be their best rookie, period, regardless of draft slot.

“I think it’s just the consistency that he’s had and the fact that he always does everything you ask and he does it right,” Gase said. “There’s not many guys that can challenge him with the energy he plays with. Every down he’s on the field, he gives you everything he has.”

Godchaux immediately jumped ahead of third-year defensive tackle Jordan Phillips on the depth chart, and they battled throughout training camp. Both have played well alongside Ndamukong Suh when healthy this season.

Godchaux has played all 11 games, including five starts, and been on the field for 52.5 percent of Miami’s defensive snaps. He played slightly more than Phillips the last two weeks.

He is tied with Suh for most tackles on the defensive line with 31 and he’s got a forced fumble and a pass breakup to go with it. Pro Football Focus ranks him the No. 73 defensive tackle in the league this season.

“Godchaux is probably one of the best on the team at holding double teams,” defensive coordinator Matt Burke said. “He’s just a squared off safe. He’s like an old-school safe. He just holds in there and hangs and doesn’t get moved.

Beyond the way he’s played, the staff has been impressed by how he prepares. He’s taken after Suh’s no-nonsense approach and seems to have learned how to carry himself as a pro. It helps that he’s also in the same corner of the locker room as Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and William Hayes.

“He’s been exactly what you want a guy to be, especially for a young guy,” said Gase, who sent Godchaux out as one of the game captains against New England last week.

“I know Suh spends a lot of time with him. It started in the spring. I just think that’s kind of how he is built. (Suh) has just kind of got that natural leadership about him to where those young guys all kind of follow him.”

Following Suh around is never a bad plan, and that’s a strong starting point for Godchaux as he blossoms into a long-term piece for Miami.

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