Scout sees brighter draft future for Jared Goff than Connor Cook

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press
Cal's Jared Goff ranks ninth among FBS QBs with 1,240 passing yards.

NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.

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The scoop: "I told you before the season that you weren't high enough on (Jared) Goff and he's even better this year than he was last year. You need to keep an open mind on him. He'll go before Connor Cook." -- NFC area scout on the Cal quarterback

The skinny: The scout is referring to my summer evaluation of quarterbacks (hey, I never said these were my draft grades, Mr. Scout), where I had Goff ninth on my list of quarterbacks to watch. While Goff has looked fantastic to start the season, he has a tougher run of opponents coming his way that will either temper some of the raging excitement around his draft prospects or vault him into being considered as the top prospect with the potential to be available in the 2016 draft (Goff is a junior).

Goff is a lanky pocket passer with a nice release point and a history of having to carry his offense at Cal. The difficulties he's faced from a win/loss standpoint have no doubt hardened him and helped to shape him into the type of poised competitor he is today. While Goff is definitely higher on my list than he was before the season started, I will continue to watch and allow his play to shape my opinion rather than just defaulting to top quarterback status for him.

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The scoop: "I can tell that most of these announcers don't watch any game tape. Hearing these guys act like Eric Striker is a big-time NFL prospect means they haven't watched him. He'll have to play a role like Kam Chancellor in Seattle to have any shot in our league. He's too small." -- NFC area scout on the Oklahoma linebacker's NFL chances

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The skinny: Striker has respect within the conference and has posted some rock-solid numbers, but he's extremely undersized for the position and doesn't always use his speed advantage as often as he should as a pass rusher. I don't see the comparison to Chancellor because Striker isn't as physical and I'm not sure he has the speed to transition into a starting safety role. Some might see him as another Tony Jefferson (Arizona Cardinals safety who played for Oklahoma), but I don't.

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The scoop: "Alabama is going to be in serious trouble against Georgia if they get behind because those linebackers are salty. (Lorenzo) Carter might be the most talented, but he's only a sophomore, so I'm not really studying him right now. I love (Leonard) Floyd's versatility but (Jordan) Jenkins is the toughest of them all and that is what they've been missing in the past. He's like a Saban rush end but with more juice." -- AFC director of scouting

The skinny: It's an interesting comparison to a Saban linebacker by the the scouting director because one of the players I see as an NFL comp for Jenkins is former Alabama defensive end Courtney Upshaw. Jenkins has a very high football IQ and plays the position as one of the most pro-ready prospects you will find, but the potential NFL standout of the group is Floyd, who could be a consistent double-digit sack man in the NFL as a rush linebacker.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.