Steve Bartkowski, the only Cal quarterback to be taken No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, remembers the first time he saw Jared Goff play.
“He looked like a skinny, kind of gangly kid as a freshman,” Bartkowski recalled.
That’s not how the former two-time Pro Bowl selection now describes the junior quarterback, who will lead Cal against Air Force in Tuesday’s Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Texas.
“He’s got a great future,” said Bartkowski, 63, who played 12 NFL seasons. “He’s got a big enough arm to make all the throws, which is the No. 1 prerequisite for playing the pro game. I really like what I see.”
So does pretty much everyone else, leading to a nearly unanimous assumption from the mock draft crowd that Goff is about to play his final game for Cal and will submit paperwork by the Jan. 18 deadline to enter the NFL draft.
Goff, whose 11,733 career passing yards are the most over three seasons in Pac-12 history, has consistently declined to address his NFL future. “I don’t know where they’re getting their information from,” he said after a recent practice, “but I’ve not made a decision yet.”
Cal coach Sonny Dykes wouldn’t give up anything Goff has said in their discussions, but understands the prevailing sentiment. “What they assume is if you’re going to be one of the top two or three quarterbacks, you’re coming out,” he said. “It’s usually a right assumption.”
Goff and Memphis junior Paxton Lynch are the consensus top-rated quarterback prospects in college football. ESPN draft specialist Todd McShay believes Michigan State senior Connor Cook may be the most NFL-ready right now, but says Goff and Lynch have greater upside.
Still, McShay cautions against any junior quarterback entering the draft, and uses recent history as his guide.