With a city burning with desire to began their significance in the NFL once again, and the rest of the football world pondering the answer to the most debatable first overall selection question in years, coach Jeff Fisher, GM Les Snead and the reborn Los Angeles Rams are taking this mystery right down to the wireless phone call in the NFL green room.
“With the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams select…”
A moment before you hear that line, you’ll probably see this year’s top NFL draft selection on the phone. Coach Fisher stated, in a pre-draft news conference Tuesday, that that will be the exact moment you and I, even the selection himself, will know who’s the 2016 most wanted college player coming to the pros. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past two weeks, you know the big mystery is which of the two top QB prospects will be the choice to take the Rams into their second L.A. era, Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
Yes, you’ve been hearing varying opinions from various experts and ex-players-turned-NFL know-it-alls on a daily basis regarding who the Rams will take and why, and yes, I’m about to serve up my two cents. But unlike the majority of the others, I’m actually a Ram fan that’s invested a great deal of time, sweat, tears, and blood (and yes again, that’s actually real blood — long story/long ago, ask me later).
If you are indeed a real Ram fan as well, you will relate to the first thing I’d like to throw out there, a message to coach Fisher & Company I encourage you to ‘share’ until it reaches someone who has an actual ear of someone on the staff. The message being: Whoever the selection, DON’T RUIN HIM!
I say that because Fisher has already made it known to everyone that will listen, including both prospects in visits, that they (the pick) will not be throwing as many passes in his stay with the Rams as they did in college. A common sense statement coach didn’t really have to make, with Todd Gurley in the backfield. I’m willing to bet both know Gurley is on the team by now. So why say it? Could it be that in those visits — the three separate visits by each potential future QB — the two were being tested for reactions, replies and temperament? An interesting point I’ll get back to.
This now brings me to my two cents worth. Ladies and gentlemen, Jared Goff or Carson Wentz?
By now, you’ve just about heard all of the comparisons; Carson Wentz versus Jared Goff, one has this, the other has that, and for the most part they are all true and I agree:
PHYSICAL ABILITY: Both quarterbacks are capable of moving well and extending plays, however, Wentz has the edge here. If you’ve seen the same highlights as I have, this guy gets anywhere near the goal line and smells blood. He’s flattened a DB or two in the process. Exceedingly quick and nimble on his feat for a guy his size, this first category easily goes to Carson Wentz.
POCKET PRESENCE: Another area both are at least ‘not bad’ in. Still, Goff excels here. What’s ‘on tape’ is proof positive that he has a knack for knowing his surroundings while keep his eyes up the field with focus. He will slide over with ease if he feels pressure coming up the middle, all while making his progressions. Wentz’s second nature may be to run, but he clearly does when it’s needed, not too early, like other pure running quarterbacks. Two passing grades given here, but the prize goes to Jared Goff.
ARM STRENGTH: Again, both get passing grades here. Goff has made some exceptional throws down field and on target, several were while on the run. Wentz’s arm strength is a bit better, and in part, because he is naturally bigger and better. Goff’s small frame (which was at one point, all of a buck-eighty-five) has been growing of late, he’s at 215 pounds as of April. He will probably need to put on another ten or so pounds to take on the pounding of the NFL. I worry about his effectiveness at an unnatural weight. Clear winner here is Carson Wentz.
ACCURACY: Both are capable of pin point passes that hit their moving targets. Goff may be exceptional here, especially in the red zone. Wentz has threaded the needed as well and this is the category that convinces me most that both QBs have a future in the NFL. Goff has the focus and guts to have thrown some big time passes in the smallest of windows to receivers being doubled-up. Wentz has a brass pair, too, having thrown dangerous passes on out routes where no one but the receiver had any chance of catching. Coming out of college, these two are better-than-average talents. But slight edge to Jared Goff.
NFL THROW VARIANCES: Another area that convinces. Darts or touch passes, both are miles from the rest of the QBs coming out of college. Again, Goff has dropped incredible passes down from the sky with amazing touch to doubled-covered receivers in the end zone. He is already better than half the NFL here, my opinion. Wentz has done the same with longer passes. Both are very capable, but I notice that Goff is a gameday guy that seems to operate better in the heat of battle rather than…oh, let’s say, the NFL combine. Wentz looks so much more fluid and comfortable at this position at the drop of a hat. Calling this one a TIE.
PRO READINESS (EXPERIENCE): Easily, Goff has played much more than Wentz and this category can help but belong to him. However, you have to consider, “Okay, if that’s true, then don’t you credit Wentz for rising this high given the difference in the number of games played?’ Which is why everybody gives Wentz the most upside (no ‘upside’ category here because it’s just too obvious). Goff can and has thrown all the throws he will be required to make in the NFL, and fits some NFL systems. He reminds most experts and NFL personnel of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan… I have a slight problem with this others don’t seem to have. While Matty Ice is a good quarterback, how far has he taken his team? A talented team that under-achieved last season with better overall offensive fire power than, say, the Rams. But yes, for now, he’s a pure passer with more variety in his experience, so the call here goes to Jared Goff.
TOUGHNESS (BATTLE-TESTED): Not a huge debate here. Goff has taken a beating in college with standing behind terrible O-lines. He’s handled it admirably and has hung in there to the very last second to get the throw off (again, better than several current NFL QBs in this category). He’s as tough as college quarterbacks come. To me, this is both a plus and a minus. His tape shows him wearing a leg brace. I see that punishment he took in college as wear’n tear exceeding the norm. Not sure it matters because in youth, recovery is miraculous on a daily basis. I once got hit in the leg and literally crawled off the field thinking my leg was broke…Three plays later, I was back in. Points here go to both, however, because a QB that chooses to take on defensive players that last five yards to get in the end zone are not afraid of contact, and cool with me. TIE
LEADERSHIP QUALITIES: Hard to gage here because they are both leaders in different ways. Goff is a leader-by-example kinda guy that had his team mates rallying behind him constantly at Cal. He is a focused cerebral type that lasers in on the task at hand. For clarity, take 50% Peyton Manning’s focus and 50% Big Ben’s determination and will to get the pass off and where it needs to be, stir it into the talent of Matt Ryan, and you have Goff. He’s not an on-field screamer, but has a steadfast mindset that’s a steel trap. Wentz is vocal while being extremely in tune with the sense of the game’s flow. He will size up matters and do whatever it takes to win. In short, take 50% Cam Newton, mix in 50% Bret Favre, and you have Wentz… Yes, because they are both expected to be successful, another TIE.
All that being thrown out on the draft table, FOR THE RAMS, who would be your choice? Carson Wentz would be mine. This is the NFC West; easily, the toughest defensive division in the league. You want a QB gung-ho enough to meet the competition head-on, literally. Remember post-season Carson Palmer in 2015? The best ‘pure passer’ in this division.
And then there’s this: As mentioned, the majority of scouts, coaches and GMs have likened Jared Goff to Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, also a pure passer. So tell me, why move way up to the top pick, giving up so much in the process, to select the purest passing quarterback available if you don’t plan to let him rip it up and down the field? Especially when you don’t have a Julio Jones type and don’t believe in high-priced receivers, choosing to put the funds in the torso of your team, not the limbs. And as I said earlier, I hope the Rams don’t ruin whoever the pick is. Choose Goff, and lose him to free agency in a few short years because he won’t be happy long term. Choose Wentz, and not let him be the alpha dog is naturally is… This also makes no sense but is more less likely to be true. If the Rams are inside the red zone, Wentz sees receivers covered and smells clear sailing, he’s gone! Telling him not to go will cost you your job eventually, not his.
It’s only my opinion, but the truth as I see it is that when you tell one of two choices that they won’t be doing as much of what they love to do and have been doing a lot of for years now, you are giving them a kind way out of the pending disappointment of not being the chosen one.