I linked up with Vlad Belo of California Golden Blogs, the SB Nation community for fans of the California Golden Bears to get some info on the Los Angeles Rams first-round selection with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, QB Jared Goff.
Obviously, Rams fans have pored over Goff's tape and scouting reports and everything we can find online. But one of the things that's really hard to get from the outside is a sense of what kind of person draft prospects are. What kind of professional they're going to be. How they're going to handle the seemingly innocuous ups and downs of the NFL calendar. What kind of person is Jared Goff? How did he grow and mature as a person and as a leader in his three years at Cal?
If there is one thing you *don't* have to worry about with Jared Goff, it is what kind of a person he is. The type of guy you saw in the interviews on draft night and on the Jimmy Kimmel show is the guy he is. He is a humble guy, not flashy, not going to be audacious. He's just a nice guy. That should not be confused with someone who is timid or someone who is not a competitor. Goff has confidence in his ability; he's just not going to be cocky about it.This video also tells you everything you need to know about Jared Goff. Les Snead made some comment the other day about this video, referring to not having to worry about why no teammates went to his 21st birthday party. (Bo Callahan "Draft Day" reference.) Goff is a leader and he is well respected by his teammates.
Imagine Goff had stayed in school. Fast forward to the big games on your schedule this year. The Texas-Arizona St. back-to-back. Oregon and USC to close out October. Stanford and UCLA to close out the regular season. What are you certain a senior Jared Goff would do in the big games? What are you worried about from him?
A senior Jared Goff, I believe, would have stepped it up in big games. Granted, there are some questions about that, as people may remember his 5-interception performance at Utah last year as the most memorable "big game" performance he had. (And despite the 5 INTs, Goff also threw for 340 yards, 2 TDs, and had Cal with a chance to win in the 4th quarter.) But I don't think it is fair to remember him for that. Goff had a bunch of solid performances against good teams, especially during the last 2 years. If anything, the thing to worry about with him would be that he tries to take too much onto his shoulders, to win the game himself. I sensed a little bit of that in that Utah game last year. And a senior Jared Goff might have had some of that at Cal, as his whole receiving corps either graduated or declared early for the draft. (So instead of dealing with that, Cal will deal with a new QB *and* a new crop of receivers!)
The Rams have a very young offensive line and an underwhelming WR corps. Sound familiar? Does Goff's experience with the Cal program growing under Sonny Dykes help him transition to the Rams with a similar issue of the surrounding cast or is the lack of offensive support at the NFL level going to hold him back?
I have a hard time seeing the lack of offensive support as holding him back. How do I put this delicately without offending my beloved alma mater's football team...suffice it to say that for most of Goff's tenure at Cal, offensive line was not the team's strong unit. One of the reasons that Goff rose to the top of draft boards was that the video showed time and again that Goff could either get away from pressure, keep a play going long enough to make a throw, and (WAY too many times) stand in there and take a hit when delivering a pass.
The talent level he is playing with at the pro level is higher than what he had at Cal, of course, but it's all relative. I get that the focus of the question is that the Rams face a similar issue as they try to build themselves. Goff's experience take Cal from 1-11 in 2013 to 5-7 in 2014 to 8-5 in 2015 is certainly an experience that will help him in L.A. I can say with certainty that the uphill climb the Rams face now is nothing like Goff faced in 2013.
The Rams' current QB trio consists of Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion. What does Goff do so well that he'll leapfrog them into the starting position? What will Goff do in training camp that will wow Rams fans?
Honestly, I like all of those QBs on the Rams' roster and have great respect for all of them. Foles and Mannion I'm particularly familiar with, as I saw them play against Cal in the Pac-10/12. What Goff will do that will "wow" Rams fans may not be much of a wow -- he just might do everything a little bit better than those guys. Goff has good feet, he is accurate, he can throw the ball into tight windows, and the kid can take a hit. There are times where I wondered how the heck he got away from a guy, and how the heck he was able to get the pass away. Little things like that make difference in the NFL and fans should take notice.
Example here at 3:10. Sidesteps a guy who had a beeline to him, manages to keep throwing position and fire a good pass.Another example here at 2:15 vs. ASU last season. One of my favorite Goff plays. Not sure how he got away from all of that, but he did, found the open man and got his team a key first down.
Ok, so this one kind of stings, since...well, reality bites. Six years ago, the Rams held the #1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. With it, they selected QB Sam Bradford, the consensus best QB prospect in the country and probably would have been a year prior over Matt Stafford had he declared after his RS sophomore season. Fast-forward to now, and the Rams ruined Bradford physically and otherwise leaving him in the odd position of demanding more support from his second suitor after receiving a massive new contract and a good look at remaining the starter despite yet to have a single winning season in the NFL. What's to stop Goff from a similar fate? What can the Rams get right this time around with Goff that perhaps they got wrong with Bradford? How much of Goff's early NFL success will be due to him and his skill set and how much will depend on the team building around him?
Hmmm...that is a tough one. What is to stop Goff from the Bradford fate? I have to tell you -- I don't know. The Rams will *have* to build around him to prevent a similar fate. I think that having a guy like Todd Gurley at the RB position is a darn good start. I also think that the Rams did a great thing by drafting Pharoh Cooper and the two TEs they picked up in the draft. I took that as a sign that they are serious about giving a young QB some help.
That said, if Goff is to have some early success, it will be due just as much to him as the Rams building around him. I think Goff has the tools to have success, and I don't just mean his physical talent. The Rams drafted a guy with high football IQ, a guy who knows what it take to be a professional athlete at the highest level (his dad, Jerry Goff, as a major league baseball player), a guy who works hard, and a guy who has fought adversity on the field as a college quarterback. Goff is not going to be overwhelmed by the NFL. He will hit the ground running.
Thanks to Vlad for taking the time to answer these.