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L.A. Rams select Jared Goff with top pick of NFL draft

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The Rams returned to Los Angeles in January. Three months later, they have a new face for their franchise.

Jared Goff was selected first overall in the 2016 NFL Draft on Thursday night, ending weeks of speculation that started when the Rams traded up for the pick on April 14. Then again, this pick hardly comes as a surprise.

While Rams general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher did not tip the team's hand publicly, it became clear over time that Goff was the selection. It caps a remarkable draft season for the California product, who was not always seen as a surefire top-10 pick.

Goff does not have some of the traditional hallmarks of a No. 1 overall pick. He didn't rack up wins in college, and he doesn't have an absolute cannon for an arm. But Goff earned this moment in the sun by breaking records in three years as a starter while displaying many of the traits NFL teams crave.

NFL quarterbacks are always under pressure. And Goff excels at making difficult throws with defenders bearing down on him. Cal's often overmatched offensive line helped Goff show off his excellent pocket presence and ability to buy more time to throw the ball. He can make big plays under pressure, and goes through his reads quickly. This ability to process information is one common trait we see among top-level quarterbacks in this post-Peyton Manning era. Accuracy is another key indicator of NFL success, and Goff is on target with the short and mid-level throws that keep the chains moving.

In many ways, Goff feels like the "safer" selection opposed to North Dakota State product Carson Wentz. Goff looks more NFL-ready, and should have a chance to start the Rams' first home game in Los Angeles since 1994. But there is nothing safe about this move for the Rams. Snead and Fisher are pinning their football futures on Goff, and the success of this pick will help determine the early success of the Rams' reintroduction to the L.A. market.

Goff will not be asked to carry the Rams on his own, but there are major offensive questions. The team drafted five offensive linemen last year and is an uneven unit overall. Running back Todd Gurley is an incredible foundation piece to build around, but the Rams' wide receiver group is full of secondary options without many natural starters. The tight end position remains a big need.

Fisher will count on the Rams' defense, especially their strong defensive line, to keep games low-scoring. But the Rams lost some key pieces in the secondary and they have fewer draft picks to fill holes after giving up two second-round picks and a third-round pick from this draft alone. The Rams also gave up a first- and third-round pick next season, so this is a trade that will hamstring the Rams on draft days for years.

None of that matters if Goff is a franchise quarterback. That's how valuable the position is, and how hard it has been for Fisher and Snead to find a workable solution with the Rams. Jared Goff will become synonymous with pro football in Los Angeles in the next few years. Snead and Fisher hope that remains true for the next 15 years.

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