Being multiple is part of Davon Godchaux’s job description. So is being in the middle.
That is where the defensive lineman, who reached a two-year contract worth up to $16 million in the hours after the NFL’s negotiating window opened, projects to be for the New England Patriots.
“I feel like nose tackle, I thrive,” Godchaux told reporters during his introductory video conference on Wednesday. “Being one-on-one with the center, I feel like that’s a mismatch in my favor.”
Godchaux started 42 of his 52 games for the Miami Dolphins after landing in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. At age 26, the LSU product stands with 179 tackles, including a dozen for loss, three sacks and one forced fumble in his career.
And with a retired New England nose tackle’s phone number if he needs it.
“Big Vince Wilfork, can’t take for granted what he has done for this program and what he has done for the NFL in general,” Godchaux said of the two-time Patriots All-Decade selection and member of the franchise’s 50th anniversary team, whom he had a chance to spend time with while training in South Florida. “He dominated the game at that position. So, hopefully God blessed me to do the same, to dominate this game at that position. He’s one of the guys that I looked up to when I talk about striking them with your hands and things like that. He dominated that.”
Godchaux’s final season with Miami ended on injured reserve due to a biceps tear in October after five starts. The season prior, no interior defensive lineman around the league ended up with more run stops than his 32, according to Pro Football Focus.
He hit that tally while playing close to 40 percent of his defensive snaps either on the nose or shading it under head coach Brian Flores. A similar share at those techniques could follow under head coach Bill Belichick after a campaign in which the New England defense ranked last in Football Outsiders’ rush DVOA.
A place remains between the A-gaps in a familiar scheme. For Godchaux, listed at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, that place remains valuable real estate.
“Big Vince was kind of like the masterpiece of their defense for a long time. I think a lot of people don’t really value that position in football because you don’t get the stats, you don’t get the high accolades, you don’t get the numbers that the Aaron Donalds get,” said Godchaux. “You don’t get those numbers. But when it comes down to the 3-4 defense, the nose guard, in my opinion, is the most pivotal position because it sets up everything. The linebacker reads off that guy. In my opinion, in the 3-4 position at nose tackle, you got to have a dog in the middle. Somebody who’s going to take up double-teams, somebody who’s going to win one-on-one blocks and somebody who you just can’t deal with. Like, he’s a wrecking force. He’s a middle linebacker with his hand down, basically.”
Godchaux’s Patriots pact features $9 million in total reported guarantees. A depth chart featuring fellow free-agent arrivals in Henry Anderson and Montravius Adams, re-signed captain Lawrence Guy along with 2019 draft choice Byron Cowart is ahead.
As are centers other than new teammate and former AFC East opponent David Andrews.
“In this position at nose tackle, you just got to have a key guy, a pivotal guy and a guy who’s ready to dominate all day with his hands,” added Godchaux. “And just let that center know, let that offensive line know that, hey, it’s going to be a long game.”