The 2016 NFL Draft is still three months away, but California Golden Bears junior Jared Goff is widely considered the top quarterback prospect by Draft pundits.
Goff had a sensational season this year, throwing for 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns while leading Cal to an 8-5 record. He completed 64.5 percent (341-of-529) of his passes this year and threw 13 interceptions, though five came in a 30-24 loss to Utah on October 10. Goff had his best performances during the last four weeks of the season, throwing for over 375 yards in all four games to go along with 19 touchdown passes and just one interception.
Goff has good size, standing at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, with exceptional arm strength to go along with a very quick release. He is very accurate and has nice touch to his long ball as well possesses some ability to avoid pressure. In addition, he sees the field well and has improved his decision making.Bleacher Report's Matt Miller is very high on Goff as a pro prospect and had this to say:
"Goff is a smart, analytical film nerd and it shows on the field. A three-year starter, he's developed well in the Bear Raid offense (a progression-based offense featuring plenty of run/pass options and largely based on downfield throws). Goff loves the game and spends his time off the field immersed in football."
Goff is projected to be the second player off the board when the draft occurs on April 28 -30 in Chicago, meaning that he will be headed to the Cleveland Browns. Mel Kiper of ESPN is one of the draft experts that expects the Browns to select Goff:
"It goes without saying the Browns need to take a hard look at quarterbacks, and Hue Jackson should have the chance to start fresh with someone other than Johnny Manziel. Goff has tremendous talent and upside. He has shown off an NFL arm since he arrived at Cal and has a great mind for the game. He has also shown how resilient he can be, growing with and leading that team at Cal, which would be a great trait in Cleveland."Kiper isn't the only one projecting Goff to go to the Browns, as Bleacher Report, Dane Bugler of CBS Sports and Walterfootball.com are predicting the same.
Cleveland earned the number two overall pick after going 3-13 this past season. The Browns struggled offensively last year as they used three different starting quarterbacks – Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, and Austin Davis. Cleveland finished 30th in scoring (17.4 points per game), 25th in total offense, 22nd in rushing offense, and 21st in passing offense.
McCown was the most productive of the three quarterbacks, though he finished the season on IR due to a broken collarbone. The 36-year old, who is under contract until 2018, completed 63.7 percent of his passes (186-of-292) for 2,109 yards and 12 touchdowns along with four interceptions in eight games – the Browns went 1-6 in those games.
Manziel showed flashes of brilliance this year, but his usual off-field antics could cost him his job with the team. The 23-year old completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,500 yards along with seven touchdowns and five interceptions in nine games.
Davis struggled mightily while starting the final two games of the season as he completed 49-of-84 passes for 470 yards along with three interceptions and just one touchdown.
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, new Browns head coach Hue Jackson is indeed ready to move on from Manziel and looking to add a quarterback through the draft and/or free agency.
"If there is a quarterback there at pick No. 2 or pick No. 32 that we feel is the best option, the best fit for our organization, for our football team, then we need to go get him,'' Jackson. "I do believe that this team does need a quarterback.''
Goff isn't the only highly touted quarterback in this year's draft, as Paxton Lynch (Memphis), Carson Wentz (North Dakota State), Conner Cook (Michigan State), Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), Dak Prescott (Mississippi State), Cardale Jones (Ohio State), Jake Coker (Alabama), Brandon Dougherty (Western Kentucky), Kevin Hogan (Stanford), Nate Sudfeld (Indiana), Cody Kessler (Southern Califiornia), Brandon Allen (Arkansas), Jacoby Brissett (North Carolina State), Jeff Driskel (Louisiana Tech), and Vernon Adams Jr. (Oregon) could also get drafted.
Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco, the New York Jets, and the New York Giants are also in the market for a quarterback.
[photo courtesy of Ron Jenkins/Associated Press)