STANFORD, Calif. -- There was a large contingent of NFL evaluators on hand for the Stanford-Cal game on Saturday night. Among those in attendance were Browns GM Ray Farmer and a large collection from the 49ers' front office. While Stanford has a handful of solid NFL prospects, Cal QB Jared Goff was the main attraction.
Goff, a junior, began building a lot of buzz in personnel circles earlier in the fall. However, that buzz has quieted following a string of unimpressive performances. I thought he had one of his better performances Saturday against a solid Stanford defense, completing 37 of 54 passes for 386 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 35-22 loss.
What I liked
» He isn't quite as thin as I expected and he has room to add weight to his frame.
» He has a live arm. He has a quick-whip release and he showed the ability to drive the ball deep down the seam. Distance and velocity are two different things, but I did see him launch a few 60-yard throws in warm-ups.
» He has quick feet. He is almost exclusively in the shotgun, but it's easy to spot his foot quickness in his setup. He can extend plays with his movement/awareness.
» He has excellent touch underneath and on intermediate throws. He can change ball speed and trajectory. That is a big difference between him and Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, whom I had a chance to see in person earlier this month.
» He protected the ball. One of the major concerns with Goff was the alarming number of picks he tossed in big games (see his five picks vs. Utah). He took some shots downfield vs. Stanford, but he never put the ball in harm's way.
What concerns me
» The system. The air-raid passing system isn't going away. It's been very successful in college football, but it does make QB evaluation difficult. Once everyone is lined up, Goff stares at the sideline to get play calls and checks. The thinking takes place on the sideline instead of on the field.
» Deep-ball accuracy. After studying Goff on tape, that was a big concern for me. He misfired a few deep balls again on Saturday.
» He needs to slow down. When he's faced with pressure, Goff has the tendency to speed up his motion and lose accuracy. He missed a couple layups as a result vs. Stanford.
Decision time coming
Overall, it was a solid night for Goff. He kept his team in the game with several big throws in the first three quarters. Unfortunately, the Cal offense suffered too many red-zone mistakes, including two drops on would-be touchdowns.
Goff will have a decision to make as it relates to NFL Draft entry. Underclassmen have until a Jan. 18 deadline to apply for early entry into the 2016 draft. We'll all have to wait and see what he elects to do.