PASADENA, Calif. -- There's been so much buzz this season around Cal quarterback Jared Goff that I decided to fly to Los Angeles Thursday to see him play live at the Rose Bowl. While I wasn't overwhelmed by his performance in UCLA's 40-24 victory, I did see a player who will have checks in most of the boxes NFL teams are looking for in a quarterback.
While I'm sure NFL teams would like for Goff to have a little more bulk on his frame, the other elements of his game are definitely headed in the right direction. Against the Bruins, Goff displayed a good field demeanor despite his team falling way behind, and he continued to compete hard throughout the game.
Goff showed he can make all the NFL throws and his accuracy was good enough despite having receivers that struggled to get open. His poise in the pocket and ability to extend a play with his feet caught my eye and surly those of the 16 NFL team scouts in attendance, including Jets GM Mike Maccagnan.
Goff is a junior who has kept his early entry draft intentions close to the vest. He was overshadowed Thursday night by UCLA freshman Josh Rosen (34-of-47, 399 yards, 3 TDs), but Rosen is at least two and half years away from any draft decision. Goff, on the other hand, can enter the 2016 draft if he so chooses. One thing is clear: Whether next year or in 2017, he will play on Sundays. With that in mind, I decided to write up a scouting report based on what I saw "on the hoof" Thursday night.
Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Body type: Cal lists Goff at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds (almost exactly the same size as Matt Ryan, the quarterback five NFL personnel evaluators compared Goff to earlier this month), but he has a slender build and lacks thickness in his legs. There could be concerns about his ability to stand up to NFL hits.
Athletic ability: Decent athlete who has the necessary level of foot quickness and agility to operate roll-outs and boot-action passes and can escape the pocket when pressured.
First-half analysis: Goff showed obvious signs of being a rhythm quarterback who can look calm and fluid from the pocket while making accurate, catchable passes with plus velocity. However, he also showed that he can be thrown out of his rhythm at times as witnessed by his second quarter performance where he had six incompletions at one point. The throwing windows were a little tight for Goff at times and he struggled to overcome that. While Goff only had two "chunk throws" (15+ yards) in the half, one of them (36 yards) came right before the half when he lead Cal down the field for a touchdown.
Second-half analysis: Goff continued to try and take what the offense gave him and was really hurt by not having explosive targets who could create separation down the field. I need to watch game tape to get the clearest picture possible, but I'm interested to see if Goff was defaulting to so many short throws due to the coverage or if it was due to his lack of confidence in his receivers getting open beyond the short throws. In the fourth quarter, the offensive line began to break down and Goff had to endure a run of three early sacks. I didn't think any of the three were really on Goff for hanging onto the ball too long; it is also worth noting that he was trying to allow routes to develop down the field, which is what NFL teams want.
Decision-making: Play changes after the offense got set came from the sideline. Goff was often able to make pre-determined throws against man coverage. Despite locking in on his target at times, he made good decisions on where to go with the ball and didn't put his team in bad situations with poor decisions.
Mechanics: Smooth, easy throwing motion with decent trigger speed to get it out of his hands. Showed the ability and arm talent to expedite his throws without getting feet completely set when situation called for it. Has a slight hitch in his delivery, but it doesn't really slow it down much. Goff sailed some passes when trying to drive the ball on intermediate throws between the hashes.
Accuracy: Almost had two of his slants intercepted, but on both occasions, the wide receiver wasn't able to adjust his route properly against a physical cornerback. Good accuracy to stationary targets. Generally good accuracy to receivers on the move giving them a chance to make yards after the catch. Threw receiver open on third-quarter touchdown where ball needed to be behind receiver in order to protect the throw against constricting passing window. Threw deep ball with excellent touch and placement several times.
Poise: Showed improvement with his pocket poise from 2014 tape. Saw pressure coming on a delayed blitz and calmly slid left in the pocket and delivered a strike. Was able to speed up his internal clock and get rid of the ball when pocket began caving in, but was on borderline of rushing a few throws unnecessarily. Lost his passing rhythm at one point, but never looked panicked or shaken.
Arm strength: Goff didn't often do it in this game, but he showed he was capable of making the long, field-side throw with good velocity (and accuracy). Has the arm to make all the NFL throws. He can snap the ball off with good zip with a flick of the wrist. Failed to lead receivers on deep throws a couple of times forcing them to wait on his throw. That issue might have been due to simply getting the ball out too late.
Extending plays: He really impressed with his ability to extend plays with pocket movement and footwork under duress. He consistently ran out of trouble rather than running into it and looked natural and fluid climbing the pocket in preparation to throw or run. While he did extend several plays, he was unable to finish them consistently with completions.