LOS ANGELES (AP) — Welcome to Hollywood, Jared Goff.
The Los Angeles Rams are returning home with a new face of the franchise after choosing the California quarterback with the first overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
Two weeks after trading up from 15th to grab the top pick from the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles selected Goff over North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, hoping they’ve finally found the solution to their perennial problem at football’s most important position.
The 6-foot-4 Goff is a Bay Area native who set records and grew into a top prospect in three seasons with the Golden Bears. Now he’ll be competing for the chance to throw the first passes at the Coliseum in the Rams’ return in September.
The Rams heralded the draft and their return to Southern California after 21 years away with a block party in the LA Live entertainment district downtown. Thousands of fans and season ticket holders began lining up seven hours before the first pick, and they erupted in cheers when Goff’s name was called by Commissioner Roger Goodell on the large video screen.
The Rams missed the playoffs last winter for the 11th straight season in St. Louis, with their strong defense unable to bail out the NFL’s least productive offense despite star rookie running back Todd Gurley and a solid offensive line. Nick Foles lost his starting job to Case Keenum, but neither quarterback distinguished himself.
Hoping to make a splash in their new home while finally landing an elite passer, the Rams traded six draft picks to Tennessee two weeks ago for three picks in return, including the No. 1 choice.
Coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead didn’t think Keenum and Foles were long-term solutions to their problem, and Rams owner Stan Kroenke strongly backed his brain trust’s plan to make a splash in their return to Los Angeles.
Fisher and Snead said they don’t necessarily expect Goff to start right away, perhaps allowing him to break in slowly. Still, the Rams are likely to thin their current group of quarterbacks through a trade soon.
Goff was generally considered to be a more polished product than Wentz, and the Rams apparently reached the same conclusion after extensive evaluation of the top two prospects. Goff and Wentz visited the Rams’ temporary headquarters in coastal Oxnard, California, where Goff is expected to report next weekend for his first rookie minicamp.
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)