Monday, February 01, 2016

2016 NFL Draft Profile #13 - Jared Goff, QB, California

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.To read more about the 2016 NFL Draft Project, Click Here.

Jared Goff, QB, California - 6'4, 215 - Junior - #16
There is plenty of debate this year about the quality of the Quarterbacks relative to other drafts and other prospects.  It is my feeling that the 2016 draft's young QBs as a group at the top (Goff, Paxton Lynch, and Carson Wentz) all represent very high level prospects that any team would be excited to get their hands on and try to mold into a legitimate franchise QB.  That said, history tells us that at any level and in any sport, the best prospects or recruits are those with the highest likelihood of success at the next level - BUT, the failure rate is still plenty high and there is just no such thing as a sure thing. 
That is why it is so tough to rank these three QBs against eachother.  There are subtle differences and there are certainly advantages in each category for one player over the other, but for now, as I finish up the write-up on Jared Goff, I am struck with the feeling that I would be comfortable saying all 3 of these guys are sure-fire 1st round talents and from there we are merely splitting hairs on where inside that round they belong. 
Goff is an exceptional talent who is the youngest of the three, the shortest of the three, and the lightest of the three.  That said, it can easily be argued that he is also the most accomplished of the three, has played the highest level of competition of the three, and has the best mental understanding of the poisiton of the three.  He arrived in 2013 as an 18-year old true freshman and started from Day 1 at California in an offense where he never threw less than 500 passes in a season and each year improved his statistics with a massive step forward in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and especially TDs/INT.  He is productive and sharp as a tack.
What I liked:  He obviously sees the game at a very high level.  Some would suggest that in the "Bear Raid" offense, that it is one read and throw, but if you watch Cal play, it seems pretty clear that he is running the offense, making adjustments on the fly, seeing matchups in pre and post snap, and then attacking the defense's weakness.  It is not real common to see someone see the field like he does as he generally scans to his 2nd or 3rd option and then fires a dart.  He is looking to make a play and therefore will aggressively push the ball well down the field instead of taking the repeated horizontal throws that his offense allows.  He has fine long accuracy at times dropping the ball right in the bucket on fades and putting the ball where only his guy can get it in the red zone.  In fact, his interceptions in the red zone are nearly non-existent in his entire college career.  He can move with his feet in the pocket as well as you can hope for a prospect as he keeps plays alive and stays in a fine throwing position, although he will often break contain and go get a 1st down with his feet and he is quite capable of being a threat there, as well.  He played with a very poor offensive line and also had a receiving corps that would fight the drops, yet his competitiveness and determination never wavered. He is absolutely not afraid of taking a hit to make a play. He looks like a real gun-slinger who has no issues with self-belief or what is placed on his shoulders.
What I did not like:  Of the three prospects, Goff might have the hardest time making the most difficult throws on a rope.  In other words, his arm is strong enough, but I am not sure I would classify it as anything better than 3rd best in this discussion.  He is also quite skinny and while he might get thicker, he will always make you nervous in terms of durability as he stands tall in a blitz to make a throw. When he is sacked, the ball does come loose from time to time.  He occasionally will lose his accuracy, with some very odd and mysterious random throws, but then quickly seems to regain his form. He also has a sudden rush of the head where he thinks he can make throws that he really shouldn't make.  As any gunslinger, there is a certain amount of bad you will live with to get all the good, but coaching will be key for Goff's development.
Summary and Potential Fit For the Cowboys:  If Jared Goff goes before the Cowboys pick, we should not be the least bit surprised.  He has probably the highest ceiling of this group, mainly because he seems to have a veteran QB's knowledge of football and defenses and coverages and most importantly, where to go with the ball against those coverages.  Everyone knows the safeties are better in the NFL, but at the major college level he was just embarrassing secondaries with routine and ease.  He understands that the best way to beat blitzes is to burn them and to give your receivers a chance to make plays in single-coverage because as a QB, there is always a place to attack.  Between his pocket poise and presence, his ability with his feet to extend plays, and his delivery of the deep ball on the button, he is the type of player that can very well be the best player in the draft.  There are some concerns, but they are the types you are willing to place a bet on.

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