Draft Daily: Jared Goff Is the Most ‘Pro-Ready’ QB
Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. If you have a player you want covered, shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE BACK STORY
It’s that time of the year.
The draft is just 30 days away, and with the annual league meeting in the rearview mirror, the rumors will circulate even more about Team X being interested in Player Y. For the Eagles, that player recently has been California quarterback Jared Goff.
The Eagles reportedly worked out Goff yesterday at Berkeley, and NFL.com’s Charles Davis projected Goff to land in Philadelphia in his latest mock draft. Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz are the consensus top two quarterbacks in the draft, so it’s unclear whether Goff will be available at No. 8.
However, there have been rumors about the Eagles potentially being interested in trading up for a quarterback. Goff was widely expected to be the first pick in the draft when the college season began, but his stock slightly dipped between the Titans finishing with the worst record — while already having a potential franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota — and Wentz’s rise.
The California native was thrown into the fire at the beginning of his college career, and he became the first true freshman quarterback in school history to start the team’s season-opener. Although Cal was terrible (they went 1-11), he finished one completion and 294 yards shy of NCAA FBS freshman single-season records.
Goff’s numbers improved each season, from touchdowns and passer rating to completion percentage and yards per throw. Last year, he set new Pac-12 single-season records with 4,719 yards and 43 touchdown passes. He also broke his own single-season school records in passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense.
In his three-year career, Goff broke 26 school records and four Pac-12 records, and he’s widely considered to be the most “pro-ready” quarterback in the draft.
There was a lot of talk about Goff’s hand size at the combine, and this spider chart illustrates why.
While I found the fascination with hand size in Indianapolis simultaneously interesting and strange, Browns coach Hue Jackson viewed it as a meaningful measurement.
“Oh yes, it does [matter]. It does,” Jackson said. “It matters because we play in a division where all of a sudden there’s rain, there’s snow and it’s different. I think guys that have big hands can grip the ball better in those environmental situations and so we’ll look for a guy that fits what we’re looking for in a quarterback. Is hand size important? Yes, it is.”
Goff, however, unsurprisingly disagreed.
“Yeah, I’ve played football my whole life and never had any problem with that,” he said.
Outside of his hand size, there’s isn’t much that’s notable about his measurements. According to Mock Draftable, one of the closest comparable players to Goff is Ryan Tannehill.
The first thing that stood out to me when I watched Goff’s film was how bad his offensive line was. It was unusual for him to have a clean pocket to throw from, and it quickly made sense why he was sacked 81 times in his career while fumbling 23 times. (The fumbling, however, significantly decreased after his freshman year.)
Because of the pressure he often faced, Goff took a lot of shots soon after he released the ball. One of my favorite throws of his was this 28-yard touchdown pass against Washington in September.
Goff also showed the ability to escape the pocket and maintain his accuracy after reseting his feet. There are many examples of this from the games I watched, but I think this 16-yard completion against Utah in October illustrates it pretty well.
In that same Utah game, Goff played surprisingly well for a guy who threw five interceptions. They weren’t all his fault, particularly the first one that was dropped by his receiver, but he also made some impressive throws that turned into touchdowns. One good example is his 35-yard toss that gave Cal its first points of the game.
One other positive about Goff is his ability to manipulate defenders in coverage. It wasn’t always obvious when he did so, but one clear example is his 25-yard pass against Air Force in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.
However, he also misread coverages at times, which, against Washington State, he followed up by throwing an inaccurate ball into a nonexistent passing window.
Before watching his film, I’d also heard the criticism that his offense often called for pre-snap reads — rather than post-snap — to determine where he’d go with the ball. However, he sometimes failed to adjust after the snap, including one red zone incompletion against Utah.
“You have to have the fade route still in play. If he throws the fade, it’s an easy touchdown,” an ESPN analyst said on the broadcast. “He pre-decides that he’s going to throw the back shoulder.”
Goff also addressed an area he’s working to improve at the NFL Combine.
“Something I want to work on is kind of tying my feet to my upper body a little bit and staying a little more on balance when I’m throwing,” Goff said. “I was able to get away with some stuff in the past, maybe falling off throws or just kind of getting away with it because I was in college and had enough arm talent to do it. I don’t expect to be able to get away with that really much longer.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Some may question why Howie Roseman would select a quarterback with Sam Bradford’s recent deal, but as we’ve discussed before, Bradford essentially has a one-year contract that will either be renegotiated or end in him getting cut after the 2016 season. Because of the uncertainty at the most important position, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Eagles drafted a quarterback in the first round.
Although I think it’s a possibility at No. 8, I’d be surprised if Philadelphia trades up to select Goff or Wentz, even if it’s just to No. 6 to leap over San Francisco. I wrote a few days ago about how Goff and Wentz don’t compare favorably to the top quarterback prospects in the last several years, and about how much of a crap shoot selecting a quarterback already is.
Still, Goff is a guy worth keeping an eye on, particularly if he slides a bit on draft day.