The Denver Broncos and John Elway always seem to find a gem following the draft, with three undrafted free agents signed by Elway going on to make the Pro Bowl.
Phillip Lindsay was last year’s star, and there are a number of rookies vying to follow in his footsteps in 2019, one of these being Ahmad Gooden.
Outside linebacker Gooden played his college football at Samford, Alabama, where he was name All-state as a junior, and in his senior year recorded 5.5 sacks playing defensive end.
The Talladega native was also invited to the Tropical Bowl in his senior year, a chance to gain extra exposure in front of NFL scouts.
Gooden said: “The Tropical bowl is just different, it’s a football all-star game like when you’re younger. You’ve got guys from all around the country that’s just as talented as you are, and it’s a good way for athletes to get exposure by testing your skill level against guys from your level to even higher.”
The Tropical Bowl also saw Gooden experience a new position, which he believes was beneficial for his development, as he added: “I feel like with my skillset and my measurements, and what I bring to the table, I feel like I can be a great attribute at outside linebacker.
“I played stand up defensive end when I was at college, it’s really similar to what I do with the Broncos, whereas at the Tropical Bowl I played just straight up linebacker, five yards off the ball.
“I was just trying to get a feel and see where I was at that position and in that area, and how comfortable I would be.
“The transition has translated smoothly; I don’t really have any problems seeing me fitting in well.”
Like many players at smaller schools, the Samford product had to wait until after the draft to get his opportunity, but he was always on the Broncos’ radar.
“(Heading into the draft) I was being realistic, I heard some things as far as the sixth and seventh rounds, but as far as it went, I was a smaller school guy, whatever happens happens.
“I was just really waiting for after, because I knew that was the more realistic thing for me, I didn’t want to get overhyped or disappointed or let down.
“I talked to them (The Denver Broncos) a couple of times, them and my agent had good relations and they were in heavy contact with each other.
“I just got word every time I talked to my agent that the Broncos have been asking about you and they’re interested, so I was just doing a little studying on them and the other teams that were interested as well and I picked them.
“It was a couple of teams that I had to think about, but (I was) just weighing it down and narrowing my decision.
“They (The Broncos) were definitely the easiest to choose, especially when you’re taking this big step into your career, you want to go somewhere where you feel you can grow and develop and just turn into what your potential presents.
“I really wanted to work under Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and I know the Broncos had some space in that position as well, as far as filling that depth, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me.
“It’s been a pleasure really (Working with Miller and Chubb)… everything they put down, I’m picking it up, so that’s helped me a lot.
“They’re good guys, they’re cool cats, and whenever I have a question or they’re critiquing anything its always helpful.”
Gooden also has high praise for Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio, and is putting in the work to take his chance when training camp arrives.
“I like the scheme they’re running, he’s (Fangio) a defensive coach and I’m used to an offensive (head) coach, so by him being more tuned into the defence, that’s helping as well.
“You get to hear stuff from the head man who organises everything, instead of just hearing it from the defensive coordinator. He’s so in tune with the game, hearing his perspective of different situations and scenarios on the field and the way he breaks it down, that’s a huge help, it’s like giving me binoculars so I can just see everything.
“I just want to go out and give it 110% every day whether its practice, meetings, the game, if you do that everything will take care of itself.
“There’s some things I’m going to be working on with this time we’ve got off, and by training camp I’ll be ready to do what I came to do.”
We would like to thank Ahmad for taking the time to speak with us. Go Broncos!
You can listen to the full interview here: https://soundcloud.com/user-454557594/denver-broncos-uk-podcast-episode-41