Markus Golden used to doubters, ready to prove Arizona Cardinals were right to pick him

May 7, 2015, 4:53 PM | Updated: 4:54 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — Markus Golden was not the most talked about defensive player at Missouri over the last few seasons.

That’s not to say he was not productive.

Last season, as a senior, he tallied 8.5 QB sacks. The year before he earned 6.5.

Yet while he was producing on the field, it was his more heralded teammates, like Michael Sam, Kony Ealy and Shane Ray, who seemed to get most of the headlines. But when asked if he felt overshadowed in school and underrated now, Golden said not at all.

“I wouldn’t say that,” he said. “I wouldn’t even say I was overshadowed. If you look at my stats, compared to them guys, my stats are right there with them guys. Maybe they were talking to the media more than me a little bit, but you come down to Missouri, I get just as much love as they get.

“I’m just making plays, and I know what I can do on the field. Shane, Michael, Kony, we’ve got a lot of great defensive players that come from Mizzou, and we’re going to keep the tradition going.”

Fair enough.

Last week, after selecting Golden with their second-round pick, 58th overall, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said often times they would turn on Missouri film to watch Ray, only to be impressed by Golden.

“‘Who the hell is 33 — he must be an underclassman,'” Arians said they would ask. “And all of a sudden, no, this guy’s a senior and he’s a balls-to-the-wall player. I just love the way he plays.”

He certainly fills a position of need for his new team.

Last season, Arizona’s defense generated just 35 QB sacks, the team’s lowest total since 2010. Their defense was still effective enough to help the Cardinals win 11 games, but you still could not help but wonder how good it could be with a better pass rush.

That’s where Golden, and his much-ballyhooed motor, come into play.

In fact, his dedication is generally pointed to first with regards to what makes him an effective player. Not his speed, which he used to run a 4.74 40-yard dash at his pro day. Not his vertical jump, which was 28.5 inches, nor his bench press, which saw him handle 17 reps of 225 pounds.

And they certainly don’t point to his 6-foot-2, 260-pound frame with 31 1/8-inch arms.

No, it’s something that can’t really be measured that is most often pointed to when talking about what he brings to the table. That could be upsetting to an athlete, but Golden, a captain last year with the Tigers, doesn’t sweat it.

“I’d be wrong to even let that frustrate me or motivate me,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. When you put on those pads, it doesn’t matter how tall you are, it doesn’t matter how long your arms are. All that matters is you’re going to go out there and make plays. You’re going to make plays for your team to win the game. You’re going to get takeaways, going to get the offense back the ball to win the game.”

It’s that simple.

NFL history is littered with players who did not quite fit the mold for their position, but succeeded anyway. Games are not won at the combine, after all, so whether or not a player has strong measurables doesn’t really matter much.

A former running back who went the JuCo route before winding up at Missouri, he is used to proving people wrong.

“My whole career has been built off people doubting me, like, I’ve been getting doubted in this game since little league, since I first started playing football, so it isn’t anything new to me,” he said. “I’ve always been in this position and I’m just ready to play.

“I can’t worry about that, I just want to come here and do whatever I’ve got to do to make the team better because the Arizona Cardinals put a lot into drafting me and I’m just blessed, and I’m just ready to pay them back. And I’m going to make sure I do that.”

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