Browns, Bears among 3 best NFL fits for top QB prospect Jared Goff
The PFF analysis team recently put out its latest draft board for 2016, this time including the top 100 NFL prospects.
Where do the top prospects fit best? We identified three ideal team fits for each player in the top 10, based on scheme, need and where each prospect is likely to be selected.
California quarterback Jared Goff was one of the highest-ranked players at the position in our college grading this season, one of the reasons why he is the No. 1 quarterback on our draft board – even ahead of a superior physical talent in North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
Goff ranked second in PFF passing grade in 2015 a year after finishing sixth as a true sophomore, and he ranked tied for seventh in this draft class in deep accuracy rate and sixth in accuracy rate under pressure. Those numbers indicate an ability to make difficult throws, and none indicate any sort of concern over his perceived lack of size (he measured in at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds).
Colleague Steve Palazzolo has noted that Goff’s small hand size – 9 inches when he measured at the combine – could potentially be a concern in cold weather games. That could give the AFC North team drafting at No. 2 overall pause before picking him, but that doesn’t keep the Browns off our list of three good team fits for Goff:
Cleveland Browns: The presence of Robert Griffin III now on the roster – even though it brings with it some intriguing potential — isn’t enough for the Browns to refrain from drafting a quarterback at No. 2 overall. Wentz has the size (6-foot-5, 237 pounds) and look of an AFC North quarterback more so than Goff, but again, our analysts view Goff as the better player based on his college production. It’s also worth noting that new Browns head coach Hue Jackson had Andy Dalton – not known for being a particularly strong-armed quarterback, whose hands measured at just 9 and one-half inches at his combine – grading as a top-10 QB this year when he was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, prior to Dalton’s thumb injury.
San Francisco 49ers: Goff went to school at nearby Berkeley, but the reasons why this is a good match go much deeper than that. For starters, new Niners head coach Chip Kelly has demonstrated an ability to elevate his signal-callers in three NFL seasons – Nick Foles had by far his best-graded season in 2013, Mark Sanchez had his second-best in 2014 in replacing the injured Foles, and Sam Bradford had his best in 2015, ranking as PFF’s No. 11 QB. Additionally, Kelly’s heavy diet of play-action passing matches well with what Goff did in college (he ran play-action on 37 percent of dropbacks in 2015, seventh in this year’s draft class). The Niners could have a major need at the position, especially given Colin Kaepernick’s reported interest in playing elsewhere in 2016.
Chicago Bears: Based on where we have Goff ranked, he should be off the board well before Chicago’s No. 11 pick. But if he were to slide past the Niners at No. 7, it’s hard to find another obvious landing spot for him – which is why the Bears begin to make sense. Jay Cutler had a bounce-back season in 2015, ranking No. 14 among QBs in PFF grades – but that was under offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who is now head coach in Miami, and just a year removed from Cutler’s disastrous 2014 campaign when his passing grade was fifth-worst in the NFL. Moreover, the Bears can release Cutler following the 2016 season with minimal financial penalty, meaning there could be as little as one season of overlap between Cutler and Goff if they drafted him. There is again the question of the cold-weather fit for Goff in Chicago and the NFC North, but those concerns might be overblown. Our analysts view Goff’s accuracy and timing as good enough to likely be able to overcome any perceived issues about his arm strength and ball security in a cold-weather division.