(David Carr photo courtesy of the Houston Texans)
(Jared Goff photo courtesy of University of California)
By Rick Gosselin
Talk of Fame Network
Jared Goff became the 22nd quarterback selected first overall since the AFL and NFL merged drafts in 1967.
Goff has now positioned himself to follow in the footsteps of Terry Bradshaw, John Elway and Troy Aikman. No, not as a Hall of Famer. That hand still needs to be played out. But rather as a rookie quarterback who made his NFL starting debut on opening day.
Of those 21 previous quarterbacks who were drafted first overall, only 14 made their starting debuts on opening day. Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Vinny Testaverde are not on that list. Neither is Carson Palmer, the first overall pick of the 2003 draft. Not only did he not start as a rookie – Palmer didn’t even throw a pass in his first season.
Jameis Winston was the first overall pick of the 2015 draft. He started on opening day against Tennessee and lost. Andrew Luck was the first overall pick of the 2012 draft. He also started on opening day against Chicago and lost. Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, Matthew Stafford, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe, Jeff George, Aikman, Steve Bartkowski, Jim Plunkett and Bradshaw all made their NFL starting debuts on opening day.
In fact, only two of the 14 first overall selections managed to win their opening-day starts – John Elway with Denver in 1983 and David Carr with Houston in 2002. But Elway left at halftime of his debut with an elbow injury and his Broncos tied with the Steelers, 7-7. Steve Deberg came on in relief to beat Pittsburgh, 14-10.
So the only first overall choice to start and finish a victorious starting debut on opening day was Carr, who passed for 145 yards and two touchdowns in a 19-10 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
David Carr…who’d have guessed that?
Goff arrives in Los Angeles finding himself in competition with Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Sean Mannion for the starting spot. But if Rams’ coach Jeff Fisher was happy with that trio, he wouldn’t have traded a king’s ransom to the Tennessee Titans for that first overall pick and the right to select Goff.
When your offense ranks 32nd in the NFL in passing with only 11 TD passes – as the Rams finished last season — you’re willing to part with two first-round picks, two seconds and two thirds for the right to land a potential franchise quarterback like Jared Goff.
Goff should be comfortable with the idea of starting. He started all 36 of his career college games in becoming Cal’s all-time leading passer. He threw for 12,220 yards and 96 touchdowns and set 26 school records. He also set Pac 12 records for passing yards (4,719) and touchdowns (43) in a single season in 2015, which is why he opted to skip his senior season at Cal to turn pro.
Goff believed he was ready for the NFL — and the Rams will find out just how ready when they open the season Sept. 12 against the San Francisco 49ers. Goff wants to be like David Carr on opening day – then be like Andrew Luck the rest of his rookie season. Luck was the only one of those 22 first overall picks to lead his team to a winning record – and the playoffs — as a rookie, posting an 11-5 mark with the Colts.