Q&A: No. 1 pick Jared Goff on playing in L.A., Carson Wentz, more
In the span of only a few months, Jared Goff went from an NFL prospect with high hopes of being a first-round selection to the most sought after quarterback in the draft, caught in the middle of an NFL arms race to acquire him. The L.A. Rams mortgaged their future for the rights to select him No. 1 overall in last week’s draft, and now the California native and Cal graduate will get to stay in The Golden State as he transitions to the pros.
Goff took some time to talk with Sports Illustrated (via Tide) about the entire draft process, how he dealt with the interminable critiques of his game and anatomy (small hands!), the friendly competition he shares with No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz, and the increased pressure he will face in his rookie season as a result of the blockbuster trade.
Tide is the proud keeper of NFL team colors as an official league sponsor and partnered with 18 of this year’s first round picks to share the unbridled excitement that accompanies a player receiving his colors for the first time. This is the fourth year of the program, with past participants including Odell Beckham Jr., Todd Gurley, Blake Bortles, and now Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Tide products like the Small But Powerful Tide Pods are the only products these players and teams trust to keep these colors clean.
Ben Baskin: It seemed that the Rams drafting you No. 1 overall was the worst-kept secret in the NFL. What did you know heading into Thursday night?
Jared Goff: I really didn’t know for sure. We had an idea of what was going to happen, just off the information we had with conversations with some of the Rams coaches and front office. But we really didn’t know for sure until we got the phone call.
BB: You had “California Love” as your walk-up music at the draft; you had to have a pretty good idea, no?
JG: I went to Cal. I grew up in California. I can use that.
BB: Your mom has said that she was starting to “get a little freaked out” when the Rams waited out nearly the entire clock to put in their selection. What was the anticipation of that like for you?
JG: I had been told [by the team] that they were going to do that, so I was expecting that. I don’t think my mom was really aware of that. I wasn’t too worried that they were going to make the phone call pretty soon.
BB: You and (No. 2 pick) Carson Wentz were compared and contrasted and dissected as much as physically possible over the last few months. Obviously you two were competing against each other, but at the same time you had the same agent and became pretty good friends. So what was it like to go through that process with him?
JG: It was a really good experience for both of us. At the end of the day, I think it benefited both of us tremendously. Yeah, there was a little bit of competition going on while working out, friendly competition. But having the same agent made it beneficial to both of us, because teams couldn’t really lie to us or beat around the bush. They had to be straightforward and honest with our agent.
BB: Obviously, your careers are going to be intertwined now as the top two picks in the draft, and it’s likely they will always be compared to each other. How do you think that relationship will be going forward?
JG: I’m just going to try to play as best as I can. I can’t worry about [Carson]. I’ll let the media compare and contrast us as much as they want, but I’m just going to worry about myself and play as well as I can and be the best player as I can be. I’m sure he’s going to do the same thing. And I’m sure we’ll play each other along the road, and when it happens it’ll be competitive.
BB: What has this whole draft process been like for you—with the 24/7 coverage and the NFL analysts parsing and critiquing everything about you, even your hand size?
JG: You just have to go into it knowing that everything they say has zero value. It really does. What the people say on TV means nothing to me, and it means nothing to anybody that’s actually playing football. It’s for the fans to watch and enjoy. But at the same time, all that matters is, What are the GMs saying? What are the coaches saying? What are the teams saying? I don’t really care what all the analysts had to say. It didn’t make a difference to me. So I kind of had fun with it and laughed at it sometimes. In the end it just didn’t mean anything.
BB: Your dad was a former professional baseball player. How has having his athletic pedigree and guidance helped you throughout your career and now, through this process of being drafted?
JG: He has given me a lot of advice. It has helped me go through the ranks of how to handle yourself, and how to handle success, and how to handle adversity, and everything in between.
BB: You grew up in California as a 49ers fan idolizing Joe Montana, you went to Cal, now you just got drafted No. 1 overall to a Rams team that is moving to Los Angeles. Does that make that this more special for you?
JG: Obviously being the number one pick in the draft is still a little bit surreal. But it’s a huge honor, and something I have worked for for a long time. For it to become a reality is special. And it’s not something I take lightly. I know it comes with a lot of responsibility, but I am ready for it. And being able to stay in California is a bonus.
BB: What do you think will be some of the challenges and benefits of coming to a Rams team that will be in a new city, trying to establish a new culture, and maybe pick up some new fans?
Goff: There are definitely some fans that are still there from when the team was there 20 years ago. There is still a fan base, and there are still a lot of people that will continue to root for them from St. Louis. I don’t think it will be tough to get the fan base going. It’s a special time in L.A. right now.
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BB: There’s already the normal pressure of the being the No. 1 pick, but you’ll also have to deal with the increased pressure of the Rams trading multiple picks to move up to get you. How do you expect to handle that spotlight?
JG: There is a lot of responsibility that comes with that. But I wont put too much pressure on myself. I’ve been a good player my whole life, and expect to continue to work hard and continue to do everything that I have done and try not to take any steps back. Try to stay the course and be the best player and the best teammate and hopefully the best leader I can be, and play as well as I can. I’m not going to worry about any outside pressure or distractions, or any of the things that comes with being the #1 pick. I know there is responsibility that comes with it, but I’m ready to get after it.
BB: Anything that you are looking forward to most in the transition from college player to NFL player?
JG: Just being able to spend all my time and energy on football. Not having to worry about anything else. Just being able to wake up, go to the facility, play football, go home, and do it all over again every day is going to be beneficial to me and something that I am very excited for.
BB: On the other side of that, what do you expect to be the biggest adjustment for you coming into the NFL?
JG: I just want to learn the terminology. They gave me some of the playbook already. Getting into it, I want to learn the terminology and get as comfortable with it as possible. There is a lot of stuff that we did in college that translates and a lot of stuff [the Rams] do that I need to learn. But mainly it’s just learning the terminology, it’s kind of like you’re learning a different language. So that’s what I will be focused on the most, heading into mini-camp, and training camp, and by that point I’ll be well-acclimated.
BB: The story with the Rams the last few years has been that they “are just a quarterback away.” As the No. 1 pick it’s generally assumed that you will be starting from Day 1. So what are your expectations for the season?
JG: I don’t have an answer for you. I’m going to come in and work as hard as I can and try to be the best player and best teammate I can be and let the chips fall where they may. It’s not up to me who plays, it’s up to the coaches. They’ll play me when I’m ready, and I’m not sure when that will be, but hopefully sooner rather than later. But at the same time, it’s not up to me, but I’ll work as hard as I can and be the best player I can be.
BB: Finally: Any message to fans or L.A. residents who are on the fence about becoming Rams fans?
JG: I think we are on the brink of doing something really special, so it’s going to be a fun time to be Rams fan. It’s going to be an exciting season for us. We are putting in the work and will be ready to go.