Drafting Jared Goff Brings Added Pressure

Dec 29, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) celebrates with his teammates after defeating the Air Force Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium. California won 55-36. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) celebrates with his teammates after defeating the Air Force Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium. California won 55-36. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The craziest offseason in Rams history continues to get even crazier.  The Los Angeles Rams spent weeks trying to convince everyone that the organization was totally committed to Case Keenum as a long-term answer at quarterback.  Just as many fans began to accept that Case was, indeed, going to be the guy, the Rams surprise everyone by making the first big splash in the draft by trading up for the number one pick.  While it is certainly possible that the Rams could shock the world again by using this pick for a guy that doesn’t line up under center on Sundays, the chance of this happening is likely as close to zero as you can get.

In fact, the rumors started almost immediately after the trade announcement was made that the Rams were targeting Carson Wentz with the number pick.  In only the course of a week, however, rumors have now shifted to show that the Rams are actually interested in Jared Goff with the top pick in the draft.  The rumors have gone so far as to imply that the Rams might be hiding their true intentions with the number one pick in an attempt to potentially trade out of pick entirely, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN.  In all likelihood, the rumors will continue right up until that official card is handed over to Rodger Goodell on day one of the NFL Draft.

But, looking back at the Jared Goff Rumors, the reasoning behind those rumors appears to stem from the fact that many believe Goff to be the most ‘pro-ready’ of all signal-callers in the draft.  The Rams, especially after making the big move to Los Angeles, realize the time may be now to finally capitalize on the talent they have across the rest of the roster and make a push to win now.  There will be a bit of a honeymoon period for the Rams as they get re-acquainted with their Los Angeles fans.  But the move to Los Angeles, along with the time on Hard Knocks and the move to secure the top pick will put the biggest spotlight on the Rams the organization has seen since their Greatest Show on Turf days.  So if the team falls flat once again while under this microscope, Jeff Fisher and Les Snead will not likely last much longer (despite recent contract extensions).

With this emphasis on winning now, the rumors about Jared Goff being the target seem to make sense.  Goff, in the eyes of many scouts, would be considered the most ‘pro-ready’ choice of all of the signal-callers in this year’s draft.

Regardless of who the choice is at QB, it is entirely likely that Fisher’s comments about Case Keenum being the starter on opening day will hold true.  But, if Goff is seen as the guy that can shorten the learning curve usually associated with going from college to the NFL, just how quickly should Rams fans expect that Goff will be the starter?  Whether accurate or not, the Rams continue to be seen as one of the biggest examples of a team “just a quarterback away” from really contending.  If the Rams draft Goff based off of his ability to make the fastest NFL leap of all the quarterbacks, can anything short of starting the majority of the season and a playoff berth be considered a successful year?

Coach Fisher is often criticized for being slow to make changes.  If Case Keenum begins the season as the starter and fails to perform, it is entirely possible Fisher won’t even be willing to pull the trigger on a QB switch before the season has been lost.  Looking back at last year, it is easy to point to just how long it took Fisher to make necessary changes on the offensive side of the ball.  It can be argued that it was this failure to act that ultimately pushed the Rams out of playoff contention despite a nice run to close out the season.  So it is entirely possible that despite all the talk of Goff being ‘pro-ready’ Fisher may hesitate too long to put him on the field, effectively short-circuiting another Rams season.

There are a number of factors that will ultimately go into the decisions the organization makes both in the draft and to start the season.  But trading up to get the number one pick, while complementing Jared Goff on his NFL readiness may ultimately create levels of pressure and expectation that would not be present if the Rams drafted a very talented ‘project’ like Carson Wentz.  If Goff if their guy, the Rams need to take him.   But, by doing so, it is entirely possible that Jeff Fisher and Les Snead may have shortened their grace period as opposed to extending it.

What’s your take, Rams fans?  Would drafting Goff as opposed to a player like Wentz or Paxton Lynch change your expectations on how soon that player should start?  Regardless of who the Rams take at number one, should an inability for this player to push the Rams over the playoff hump in their first year be seen as a disappointment?  Or should the Rams stick with Keenum regardless of who goes to the team with the top pick?