The commissioner comes out, walks to the podium and prepares to speak.
Amid the boos that will undoubtedly fall to the stage in Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre when Roger Goodell announces the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on Thursday at 5 p.m. PST, there will be excitement and eagerness.
Not just because the opening selection is being given the key to a city that is being reborn as an NFL hotspot, but instead for a much more local reason: the extremely high chance that the name that will first leave Goodell’s mouth is that of Jared Goff.
University of California, Berkeley. Or will he say Cal?
Of course there is a chance that he will not be the pick. And he will fall second. Or seventh.
But those odds now seem slim. For the first time since 2011, a Cal football player will be picked in the first round. And possibly, for only the second time ever in the school’s history will a Bear be taken first overall. It only happened when quarterback Steve Bartkowski was selected in 1975, ahead of Walter Payton, and went on to have a stellar NFL career, setting many records for the Atlanta Falcons and starting for the Los Angeles Rams himself for part of the 1986 season.
And while Cal’s presence in the NFL is very much existent — Aaron Rodgers, Cameron Jordan, Keenan Allen, DeSean Jackson and more — having a signal caller start on the professional level for the first time since Rodgers left in 2005 will potentially be the very thing to affirm that the Sonny Dykes era of Cal football is doing some good.
Recruited by Jeff Tedford and coached entirely by Dykes, Goff was the first Cal true freshman quarterback to ever start a game and went on to set more school records than are even worth listing after going only 1-11 that first year.
In addition to Goff being potentially selected with one of the first picks, he will also having a strong role on whatever team he ends up on. This will be especially true if it is in Los Angeles, a city where a football team hasn’t been for years and Goff will, quite ironically, be starting his career playing on a Pac-12 rival’s turf.
But it will also mean that there will be a quarterback in the NFL who proudly announces that he originated at the University of California, Berkeley, a phrase that Cal graduates in the league rarely seem to utter.
With at least four other prospects having the chance to be selected over the three-day period of this year’s draft, the class from Cal has the potential to make waves. From running back Daniel Lasco, who ended up being a combine star, to wide receiver Kenny Lawler, who has the potential to either make jaw dropping catches or miss an easy throw, Goff’s offensive weapons are also hoping to find a landing spot.
Yet, it’s hard to predict in advance what exactly will happen to a prospect, to overpredict or underestimate their abilities on the field. This class could be one that brings new recruits to the Cal program in unprecedented ways. Or one that does literally nothing.
What Goff will certainly add to is a legacy of having a moderate number of quarterbacks selected with the Bears tied for the fourth-most quarterbacks selected in the draft’s history. And Cal will most likely be one of two schools that has two quarterbacks from the same school starting at the beginning of the 2016-17 season.
So sit back and grab a drink. Relax and enjoy the draft these coming three days. Hope for surprises and things that you would never have expected and trades that absolutely blow your mind.