Jared Goff came to Cal as a skinny freshman who had to fight for the starting job against Zach Kline, one of the highest-ranked recruits who’s ever taken his talents to Berkeley. Goff won the job, but not much else, as the Golden Bears struggled to a 1-11 season in 2013, with the lone victory against Portland State, at home, by a field goal. After that season, it turned around fast.
Today, he played probably his last game for the Bears and is most likely going to be a top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. He celebrated fittingly, by ripping apart the Air Force secondary for six touchdowns. It was as thorough a domination as you’ll see amongst this year’s bowl games.
Those TDs gave him 43 for the year, good for a new Pac-12 record. He also tossed 467 yards and broke the Pac-12 record single season yardage record. The win today was Cal’s first bowl win since 2008, back when Jahvid Best was a fringe Heisman candidate. Goff grew up in the Bay Area as a huge Cal fan (he spent his 9th birthday at Memorial Stadium) but frankly, there isn’t much more for him to accomplish in college, besides beating Stanford, and that’s not worth risking injury to pass up a big payday in the NFL.
He hasn’t announced his decision yet, but it seems like he’s leaving. His coach even told the San Jose Mercury News:
“Look,” Dykes said, tipping off the audience that some sincerity was coming, “the way I see this thing is if he’s got an opportunity to be one of the top draft picks or the first quarterback taken in the draft, then I don’t think there’s much of a decision to make, quite frankly.”
There aren’t that many teams near the top of the draft order with an obvious hole at quarterback (the Cowboys, 49ers, and Rams immediately come to mind as good landing spots), but he should be off the board early. Goff is a 6’4” pro-style quarterback with deceptively good feet, and most scouts have him as either the first or second quarterback off the board (MMQB said of him: “Goff irrefutably projects to stardom.”). Cal played a hyper-pass-heavy spread this season, in which he excelled, but he seems like an even better fit for a more traditional NFL offense.
Of course, Goff isn’t a perfect prospect. He did throw five picks in the loss to Utah that derailed what started out as a dream season. But he helped Cal rebound quickly from the worst season in its history to winning bowls in two quick years. Whether or not he becomes an NFL star, he is, by some very important metrics, the best quarterback in Pac-12 history. Let’s hope we see more of these in the NFL next season.
Update (1.:04 p.m.): He gone!
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