Chris Godwin is about to do something only three football players from Delaware have ever done before – be selected to play in the NFL’s Pro Bowl Game.
That All-Star game, of course, is reserved for the best of the best, and Godwin has been just that this season, even though he plays for a mediocre team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Godwin — the former Middletown High star who played at Penn State before being drafted by the Bucs in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft – is having a better season than any wide receiver in the league not named Michael Thomas.
- His 1,212 receiving yards are second in the NFL to Thomas, a consensus All-Pro for the New Orleans Saints who has 1,424 yards.
- His 81 receptions are tied for fourth among all NFL wide receivers, along with Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers. The leaders are Thomas (121 receptions), Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins (93) and New England’s Julian Edelman (90).
- His 20 receptions of 20-plus yards are tops in the NFL. He’s also been clutch – Godwin is fourth in the NFL in third-down receptions, with 21 catches for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
- His per-catch average – the true mark of a big-play receiver – is 15 yards, and among all receivers with at least 70 receptions, only Dallas’ Amari Cooper (15.1) has a higher per-catch average.
- Finally, his touchdowns – Godwin has scored nine of them and only one receiver in the entire NFL has scored more – Detroit’s Kenny Golladay, with 10.
So, Godwin is catching lots of passes and he’s amassing lots of yards and scoring a lot of touchdowns. Plus, he’s doing it with an up-and-down team and a scatter-armed quarterback (Jameis Winston) who throws almost as many passes to the other team as he does to his own and is the 25th-rated QB in the NFL. Tampa Bay also has another All-Pro receiver, Mike Evans, on the other side, so it’s not like Godwin is the only target the Bucs’ QBs have.
Among NFC receivers, Thomas is a no-brainer as a Pro Bowl starter and Godwin has the inside track to join him in the starting lineup. There is competition, of course, but nobody else really matches Godwin’s numbers — Carolina’s D.J. Moore (78 receptions, 1,061 yards), Los Angeles’ Cooper Kupp (77 for 990), Chicago’s Allen Robinson (76 for 898), Los Angeles’ Robert Woods (71 for 933) and Dallas’ Cooper (70 for 1,054).
Almost all of those players are more well-known to the general public than Godwin is, mainly because he played behind Evans’ large shadow the last two seasons for a bad team that has no national profile. So, even though everybody Godwin was a good player, not many expected him to have a breakout season like this, except, perhaps, the people who know him best.
Back in late September, I wrote about Godwin’s quick start to the season and did the math and figured that, at that pace, he would finish with 104 catches for 1,544 yards and 16 touchdowns. I also added that nobody expected him to keep that pace up for an entire season and eventually he’d come back to earth.
Wrong. With three games left in the regular season, Godwin is on pace to finish with 100 catches for 1,491 yards and 11 touchdowns – and his first Pro Bowl berth.
By the way, the other Delawareans who have played in the Pro Bowl (and we’re sure somebody will let us know if we missed one) are Concord High’s Montell Owens, a special teams selection for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 and 2012; St. Mark’s Steve Watson, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos in 1981; and McKean’s Randy White, a defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys who was voted to nine Pro Bowls in the late 1970s and early 1980s before being selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994 and, just recently, to the NFL’s list of top all-time 100 players.