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Cal Football Golden Spotlight: Jared Goff NFL Scouting Report

The Golden Spotlight shines a critical light on Jared Goff the prospect.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Jared Goff going #1 overall to the Los Angeles Rams, I have been asked to give my scouting report on him.  Therefore, I have compiled ratings, on a scale of 1-10, somewhat in order of what I value most in a quarterback.  These ratings are a combination of my personal feelings and the way that I believe scouts rate him.  I will attempt to be clear in differentiating the two.

A "7" is the score for an average starting NFL quarterback.  Keep in mind that a 7, therefore, is a very good score.  Do not equate a "7" with a "C" grade.

A "10" is the score given to an all-time great.  I almost never give a 10.  An example of a "10" coming out of college would be Michael Vick's speed.  Most "normal" quarterback traits are too hard to prove in college to consider garnering a 10.  Scouting current NFL players, 10s might be given to Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady for decision making and accuracy.  A "9" is means that a particular trait is or projects to be great in the NFL.

The traits I will be ranking:

  • Decision making
  • Accuracy
  • Vision/reads progression
  • Anticipation
  • Consistency
  • Throwing under pressure
  • Footwork/pressure evasion
  • Leadership/intangibles
  • Touch
  • Arm Strength
  • Release
  • Proven perseverance?
  • System translation (how easy to compare to a pro system)
  • Intelligence
  • Size/sturdiness
  • Height issue?
  • Off field character/question marks?
  • Dynamic running ability
  • Speed
  • "Unique" trait?

Goff's ratings, with an explanation and sometimes a comparison to other prospects, with a special focus on Carson Wentz:

Decision making 8. This is one of the harder ratings to put a number on for Goff.  Essentially, you have Goff's entire career, and then you have Utah 2015.  My guess is that scouts disregarded Utah as an anomaly, and see a quarterback who has a proven ability to make good decisions consistently.  I agree with that assessment.

Accuracy 8. Somewhat linked to consistency (below).  When Goff was in rhythm and in a groove, he placed the ball as well as anyone.  There were times, however - often early in games - where he missed receivers that he shouldn't have missed.  He has shown the tools to improve this rating in the NFL, with an "accuracy upside" at the top of the game.

Vision/reads progression 9.  This is an area where Goff shines.  He showed a consistent ability to scan the field and find the correct receiver.  As I will note more than once, the argument that many talking heads make that he did not make "pro" reads because he played in the "Bear Raid" offense is lazy, tired, and stale.  Anyone who watched and understood the film would know that the offense often incorporated full field reads, and Goff showed great aptitude for making them.

Anticipation 9. Another area where Goff is an elite prospect.  He showed the ability to anticipate throws and deliver the ball to receivers who he knew would be open by virtue of the route and their leverage against the defense.

Consistency 7.  As noted in "accuracy," this is an area where Goff can improve.  At times he was great (especially when he found a rhythm later in games), but he missed enough receivers early in games (even near the end zone) to give some pause.

Throwing under pressure 9. Another elite rating.  As us Cal fans know, Goff faced heavy pressure throughout his career.  He proved adept at delivering the ball with good posture despite heavy pressure.  He wasn't perfect - but no one is against pressure.  This is one of the traits that separates Goff as an elite prospect, as it is of vital importance in the NFL.  Compare to Wentz, who faced pressure less often, and did not maintain the same fundamentals when facing it (at least from my limited study of his film).  He might improve, but this would be my biggest worry for Wentz.

Footwork/pressure evasion 9+. This is probably where Goff is most advanced, and is about as close to a "10" as a prospect can be coming out of college.  Re-watch the Arizona State game (particularly the second half) if you want to see the proof.  Goff has the instincts (whether trained, inherent, or some combination of the two) to feel the angle and speed of the pressure and escape correctly - against the grain of the pressure - while keeping his eyes down the field.

Leadership/intangibles 9. There are only good things to say about a quarterback who got crushed as a true freshman on a historically bad team but emerged as the key leader in turning the team back into a winner.  From the outside looking in, Goff appeared to be extremely well liked and respected by his coaches and teammates.

Touch 9. This is the "artistry" aspect of quarterbacking.  Many quarterbacks can throw the fastball, but can they deliver the ball with enough air under it to get above the linebacker level and enough zip to get there before the safeties converge?  Can he hit the shallow crossing route in the numbers with a soft but firm pass?  Can he deliver the jump ball at the correct height to the corner of the end zone?  Goff has shown the ability to be great here.

Arm Strength 7. Goff can make all of the throws that an NFL starter can and should make.  But his arm strength is not elite.  In my opinion, however, a quarterback only has to reach a minimum level of arm strength in order to have limitless potential.  7 is the arm strength that Brady and Montana have/had (and, of course, many failed quarterbacks - I am not arguing that this is the "perfect" level of arm strength).  Wentz is probably an 8.  10s would be John Elway, Brett Favre, Matt Stafford, and Colin Kaepernick.  This is probably the subject for a different article, but I am not convinced that having a "10" is even beneficial.  Of course, it worked great for Elway and Favre.

But there are at least two problems: (1) extreme arm strength may have an inverse effect on touch.  The harder you can throw, the harder it seems to be to throw the needed touch passes. (2) Extreme arm strength may inhibit growth/anticipation as a quarterback, and may hide deficiencies as a prospect.  Essentially, if a quarterback always had a rocket arm, he may have relied on it too much to make throws that NFL caliber defenders will interfere with; thus, that quarterback may not have developed the anticipation and decision making that is necessary for NFL stardom.

Release 7. Goff has a nice, fundamentally sound release.  Nothing odd to it (i.e. Philip Rivers), and not a long release.  Also not an extremely quick, Rodgers/Marino-esque release.  Just a nice, solid release.

Proven perseverance?  Yes. Goff survived a beating on a bad team behind a porous line as an undersized freshman to lead his team to a bowl game two seasons later.  Everyone faces adversity in the NFL.  This isn't a knock against a guy like Wentz, but he is unproven in this category.  The NFL knows that Goff remains a positive leader and competitor when times are tough.  All indications about Wentz's character are that he would react the same, but he has not had to prove it.

System translation (aka how easy to compare to a pro system) 7. Cal's offense is not as "college systemy" as many of the talking heads like to say without watching.  As mentioned above, Goff made plenty of full field reads.  Was he under center?  No, and that does lower his score.  But the NFL game is increasingly being run from shotgun.  Nobody criticized  Tom Brady for beating the Seahawks in the Super Bowl in what was almost as "spread" as any college offense.  It is true that Cal's offense relied on screens and run option passes more than most NFL teams do, but Goff was not a single read or half field read quarterback.  Goff had the ability to change protections and plays at the line and shouldered the responsibilities of a pro quarterback.  There will be some adjustment to being under center more than he is used to, but there was plenty of film available of Goff "doing NFL things."

Intelligence 9. Not a perfect wonderlic score level genius, but there will be no concerns about Goff's intelligence.

Size/sturdiness 4. This would probably be Goff's weakest trait in the eyes of scouts.  He is a naturally skinny guy with a small lower body.  Some scouts will question his durability for this reason.   This is a similar reason why prospects like Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers (as well as many more with lesser careers) dropped in the draft.

Height issue? No. Hard to rate height on a 1-10 scale, but there are no concerns about Goff being too short.

Off field character/question marks? No.

Dynamic running ability 7. Goff is a good athlete, but not particularly elusive or dynamic.  He is fast enough to pick up chunks of yards and occasionally make a move, but won't be confused for Michael Vick.  Just like most NFL quarterbacks.  This is an area where Wentz has a big edge over Goff - Wentz is a big, aggressive runner who can be a legitimate part of a running game.  Depending on the offense that you want to run, this can be a big deal.  With Wentz, you may be getting a "Cam Newton light" in the run game.  On the other hand, it is very hard to be both a runner and a pocket passer in the NFL.  Goff is a pure pocket passer, with pretty good speed if need be.

Speed 7. Goff is faster than many people think.  A good, pretty fast athlete.  Probably in the middle of the pack for an NFL quarterback.

"Unique" trait? No. A unique trait for a prospect would be, for example, Cam Newton or Tim Tebow's goal line running, Michael Vick's electricity, or Johnny Manziel's creativity.

What do you get when you add it all together?  An elite quarterback prospect who is a worthy top draft pick.  Of course, nothing is a sure thing.  Goff is not one of the best prospects ever, because he is not what I will call a "five tool" prospect, to use a baseball term.  He doesn't have the howitzer arm, physical build, or elite athleticism to be considered a "generational" prospect.  But he has every necessary trait to be a successful pocket quarterback, including good athleticism for that role.  And being a "five tool" prospect is not essential to becoming an all-time great; look no further than fellow Bay Area products Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

Success is never guaranteed for a quarterback.  Goff's ability to make all of the throws on the field with accuracy and touch as well as his elite footwork and intangibles give him as good a chance as any pocket passing quarterback prospect to make it in the NFL.