Jared Goff Over Christian Hackenberg? Surely You Jest, Mel Kiper

By Jason McIntyre

It’s late June, so Mel Kiper felt compelled to rank the top junior and senior quarterbacks in college football. There isn’t much surprise among the seniors – Michigan State’s Connor Cook is obviously the best, followed by Cody Kessler of USC – but among the juniors, Kiper apparently wanted to get some folks worked up.

He decided to rank Cal’s Jared Goff ahead of my #1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Christian Hackenberg. That’s balderdash! If you don’t have ESPN Insider, here’s the write-up.

"1. Jared Goff, California Golden Bears: Don’t just scoff at the system Cal employs and assume anybody will put up the 3,973 yards and 35 TD passes (against just 7 INTs) like Goff did in 2014. He has a big-time arm and shows the ability to read defenses and move defenders with his eyes. Another year of development and Goff could be the top contender as the first 2016 QB off the board. 2. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State Nittany Lions: The pedigree and talent outpace the numbers, which is a good thing because 2014 was a forgettable year for Hackenberg, who had a negative TD-INT ratio and was on his back far too often behind a suspect O-line. A coaching transition was also a clear setback for his development. This will be a big year as Hackenberg will be out to prove 2014 was a confluence of problems he couldn’t control."

There’s no news there on Hackenberg. Everyone knows he struggled after losing his coach. And that Penn State runs a pro-style offense, which in the Big 10 isn’t really conducive to massive stats. Also, his lineman and skill position players were below average.

Goff, meanwhile, runs the Bear Raid offense, which is predicated on throwing the ball early and often (50+ attempts in four games last year, only one such game for Hackenberg; Goff attempted more than 30 passes in every game except a 55-14 rout of Sacramento State; Hackenberg threw less than 30 passes four times). But for a quick-strike attack, it’s not like Goff has the accuracy of Marcus Mariota (60 percent completions as a freshman, 62% as a sophomore), and he has no wheels, either.

Is Goff a Sonny Dykes creation? Or is he a 6-foot-4 QB who is a great fit with an up-tempo team like the … Eagles? We’ll probably find out much more about Goff in 2015.

The only saving grace here: Goff is at least another name for the Jets to consider when they draft a QB in 2016. I didn’t think he was 1st round material, but he’s got about nine months to prove me wrong.