Player evaluation will make or break an NFL general manager, and no player is harder to evaluate than a quarterback.
Very few colleges run NFL-type offenses anymore except Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Stanford, and Florida State. Most college quarterbacks run a no-huddle system, with primarily shotgun formations, and very little coverage diagnosis. Turn on the television Saturday and watch how many quarterbacks look to the sideline for checks.
There's nothing bad about all this in my opinion. The no-huddle, fast-paced systems are terrific for college football because they
can be a great equalizer for a team with less talent. The defense can't substitute and can get exhausted quickly. In some of these offenses, the potential of the quarterback running is hard to defend, and adds to the excitement of the college game. I love college football, and the fast-paced, high-octane offenses that come with it.
But it does make it harder for those quarterbacks to adjust to the NFL. It also makes it harder on NFL general managers because they have to forecast whether these quarterbacks can handle the mental adjustment of a pro-style offense, which involves more pre- and post-snap coverage reads.
This could be the exact reason why the No. 1 pick in the draft, the Rams' Jared Goff, has yet to make his NFL debut. He played in the "Air Raid" offense (or "Bear Raid" as they called it at Cal), which was made famous by coach Mike Leach. While this offense has helped make QBs extremely productive with gaudy college stats, no quarterback from this system has succeeded in the NFL. Even players from that type of system who showed flashes, like Robert Griffin III, haven't been able to sustain success.
It's exactly why so many talent evaluators were divided over whether Goff should be the top pick. Goff has shorter arms and smaller hands than what many GMs are looking for. Yet the offense he played in college was probably the biggest concern for his detractors. Some teams even had Goff ranked as the third-best quarterback in the draft, behind Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch.
It's way too early to make outrageous claims about whether the Rams made the right decision taking Goff. Many made that mistake Griffin's rookie year, when they said he was better than Andrew Luck. There is no doubt Goff is extremely talented, but when will the Rams play him? Clearly their coaching staff doesn't think he's ready. Case Keenum, Los Angeles' starting quarterback, came from a similar college system. While he's done well for a former undrafted player, he isn't a franchise quarterback and has had concussion issues in the past.
Goff could get his opportunity at any moment. And when that time does come, how long will it take Goff to acclimate? Ultimately, will he prove the Rams right for drafting him? We are left to speculate for now. Maybe it could change Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.