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Rams select Jared Goff with No. 1 pick in 2016 NFL Draft

The Rams moved up to grab their quarterback of the future.

After making a trade to move up to the top spot in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Rams have selected former Cal quarterback Jared Goff.

Goff, 21, was the first-ever true freshman to start in a Cal season opener, and he went on to start every game in his three seasons in college. Entering the draft, Goff was battling with Carson Wentz of North Dakota State to see which would be the first quarterback selected in 2016.

Goff and Wentz sit atop what is generally considered a weak class of quarterbacks this year, but that shouldn't detract from their individual accomplishments and skill. Both are legitimate starting-caliber quarterbacks and they weren't considered high first-round picks just because they were the best of the rest.

"I'm confident in my abilities wherever I go, honestly," Goff said at the NFL Combine in February, "I'm very confident and I think I can be successful anywhere."

The chances that Goff would be the top pick in the draft skyrocketed when the Rams traded up to the top spot with the Tennessee Titans. The quarterback-needy Rams were surely only looking at Goff and Wentz when they made the trade, which saw them send two first-round picks, two second-round picks and two third-round picks to the Titans.

That's giving up an awful lot for a single player, and though the Rams didn't admit which quarterback they would take at No. 1 overall, it's clear they wouldn't have given up that kind of draft capital if they didn't already know that Goff was their man. He'll take over a Rams team that fielded the worst passing offense in the league a season ago and one that has struggled for relevance in the NFC West for years.

In 2015, Goff led the Bears to their first winning season since 2011, and set single-season records for passing yards (4,719), touchdown passes (43), and total offense. His yardage and touchdown totals were Pac-12 single-season records. He holds the Cal single-game record with 542 passing yards in a huge 48-46 come-from-behind victory over Arizona State in his final regular season game.

Even as he was drawing praise as the top quarterback in the draft coming off his best season in college, Goff was adamant that he leaned heavily on his team, which was built from the ground up starting in his freshman season.

"We had to really start from the floor and build everything up, and we were able to go 8-5 and win a bowl game," Goff said. "It was tremendous. It's a testament to our hard work."

Still, Goff is the man on top of the pile for a reason. He's regarded as NFL-ready, with strong awareness and steadiness under pressure. Not only that, but Goff simply has a great arm. He can place the ball as well as any rookie quarterback who comes through the NFL Draft, and is good at leading on defenders with his eyes.

Goff can force the ball in a tight spot when needed, and did it plenty of times at Cal, like in this 45-44 shootout win over Texas:

This is all despite the wave of concern that arose around the Combine when Goff had his hands measured and they came in at 9 inches, one-eighth of an inch shorter than the generally acceptable threshold for NFL quarterbacks, at least according to "anonymous scouts." Goff's hands measured 9 1/8 inches at his pro day, miraculously.

"I heard I have small hands yesterday, apparently," Goff said. "Naw, I've never had a problem with that or expect it to be a problem at all."

But it's an important factor, even if it's overblown. Having bigger hands is a proven asset in the league, and can help a quarterback throw the football in inclement conditions. Many people focus on the potential for fumbles, but that's a secondary concern to having good control of the ball when faced with colder and wetter conditions.

Goff played in a spread offense at Cal, and like many quarterbacks he'll have to make a transition to a pro-style system in the NFL. Despite the lack of success by air raid quarterbacks in the NFL, Goff doesn't think he'll have any significant issues. He has claimed much of what he did in college translates well to the NFL.

"All the dropback pass stuff we did is included in the NFL," Goff said. "The third-down stuff is a lot of shotgun nowadays. You see teams move more towards shotgun and I've been training under center for about six weeks, not awhile, but enough where I feel comfortable with it."

Goff will likely be thrown right into the fire with his new team and will get an opportunity to sink or swim.

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