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Rams Reflections: Seven years later, was the Jared Goff selection worth it?

Rams actually nailed their top selection back in 2016

NFL: 2016 NFL Draft Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

In 2016, the Los Angeles Rams needed a new face of the franchise as they made their return to the City of Angels. With the top overall selection in that year’s draft, LA chose California quarterback Jared Goff to usher in a new era of Rams football.

Results were mixed in his rookie year as evidenced by his 0-7 record as a starter and the nagging sense from the fanbase that LA picked the wrong QB. Fast forward to the hiring of Sean McVay and Goff suddenly played the part of a competent signal caller well. Then after five seasons, the California kid was shipped off to Detroit for Matthew Stafford.

Reflecting on this particular moment in Rams history is tough. Some fans will always believe LA wasted the pick, trading up out of desperation to become accepted back into the city’s sportscape. Seven years after the draft, the ‘16 quarterback class is not a pretty sight.

For all the pre-draft debating as to whether Jared Goff or Carson Wentz would have the better career, in reality it was no contest. Carson’s time as a starter in the NFL came and Wentz. (Yes, I’m quite proud of that pun.) After a promising sophomore campaign, Wentz fell off a cliff following a significant knee injury, suffered against the Rams no less and was never the same player again.

As for the other first-rounder Paxton Lynch, he was never cut out for professional football and was out of Denver after 2017. This tweet will never not be funny either so my sincere apologies to Broncos fans. You deserve so much better.

The two most productive quarterbacks from this draft were Goff and Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick who easily could’ve gone earlier if there weren’t concerns about his character. Prescott is the ONLY player from this class currently starting for the team that originally drafted him. It’s a pleasure to destroy Cowboys fans for existing but in this case, they have a right to brag here. That better not be a sentence that comes back to haunt me later in life.

Despite declining production in his final two seasons with LA, Jared Goff was the correct selection at the time. Maybe undeserving of the capital traded up to acquire him. Yet reflecting upon this class illustrates that it could’ve been much worse for the team. An argument can be made that he has been the best QB of his class but I’m sure Dak’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award would have something to say about that.

Super Bowl LIII exposed Goff’s limitations as a passer on the grandest stage of all. The Rams made a mistake by ignoring those glaring flaws by giving him a monster extension anyways. Wish I could find a job where I could be rewarded after a mediocre showing. Boy am I in the wrong line of work.

Los Angeles was wrong to commit to Goff long-term as they were never going to win a title with him. The front office had already paid a premium for his averageness in ‘16 and doubled down when they extended him three years later. Les Snead and company should’ve known immediately after the Super Bowl that a quarterback of his limited abilities could only take them so far. The arrival of Stafford proved that point even further. Jared has to have ideal conditions around him to succeed. True of most players but especially for him. LA in the final year of the Jeff Fisher era was not the place for him to go right off the bat.

Still, he persevered soon after and did the same with the Lions. Goff’s first season in Detroit was rough as he went 3-10-1 in his 14 games as a starter. That gut check was exactly what he needed as his second year was reminiscent of his 2017-18 peak. He quietly put together an elite campaign that very few analysts have acknowledged.

LA handily won the Goff vs. Wentz draft debate and this selection should still be counted as a win for the organization. Goff is one of only three quarterbacks from 2016 with a lengthy career as a starter in the league. His 42-27 record in Los Angeles left a lot to be desired but solid either way even if his decision making on any given Sunday wasn’t.

This statement is likely an indictment of his draft class but believe me, things could always be worse.