The Cal football team flexed its offensive muscles this weekend, having four former players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft. Additionally, two former Bears were signed as undrafted free agents shortly after the draft. After Jared Goff got it started by going first overall to the Los Angeles Rams, a few of his former teammates on offense were also selected in the later rounds. The trick now for Cal’s former players is to move forward.
Yes, Goff has been unquestionably deemed the highest-judged player in the draft. Yes, he put up gaudy stats that befit a quarterback in this new age of uber-passing and wide-open schemes. And yes, he plays one of the most important positions in sports and oftentimes plays it very well. But the Rams haven’t found a finished product, or one that can single-handedly lead them to playoff push after playoff push. What Goff now needs— as his 14-23 college record indicates— is help.
The Rams, however, seem like the perfect match to provide him that help. The team boasts a young and tenacious defensive front, led by Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn. That, coupled with the strong — and getting stronger — running of Todd Gurley, will grant Goff much more breathing room than young quarterbacks thrusted into the limelight are typically afforded. A young team led by a young signal caller simply has nowhere to go but up, if the much-maligned Rams’ coaching staff can rally the troops the way they need to.
After Goff, Cal fans had to wait until the 163rd pick before hearing another familiar name. Wide receiver Trevor Davis was taken by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round, adding to a top-heavy stable of receiving threats. The Packers’ offense relies on maintaining at least four capable receivers, whom they spread out, leaving Aaron Rodgers to pick and choose from all over the field. Once Jordy Nelson went down last season, however, the Packers’ offense floundered, with the receivers becoming notorious for an inability to get any separation from defensive backs. Nelson’s injury last year, coupled with the capricious health of fellow veteran Randall Cobb, forced the Packers to roll the dice on a young insurance policy — Davis.
Following him was running back Daniel Lasco, taken in the seventh round by the New Orleans Saints. After a very strong junior season, Lasco was plagued by injury in his last year at Cal. But a very impressive performance at the NFL Combine allowed Lasco to actually be drafted. A threat on the ground and in the passing game, he needs to impress during the preseason to make the team and earn playing time in the high-powered New Orleans offense.
“I know there’s a lot of work to do and there’s a lot of things I need to do to make sure my name is on a locker in the locker room. I’m ready for this opportunity and I’m ready to go to work,” Lasco said.
Rounding out the weekend was the selection of wide receiver Kenny Lawler in the seventh round by the Seattle Seahawks. Goff’s favorite collegiate target, Lawler goes to the NFL tied for second all-time in program history with 27 receiving touchdowns.
“I felt like I accomplished a lot there, and I was ready to take that next step,” Lawler said. “I’m happy the Seahawks got me.”
The All-Pac-12 selection needs to improve his speed and strength to fight through the rigors of an NFL season, but the footwork and nose for the endzone that got him this far could again carry him in Seattle.
Tight end Stephen Anderson and wide receiver Bryce Treggs were both signed as undrafted free agents shortly after the draft. The San Francisco 49ers picked up Treggs, whose solid route running and impressive straight-line speed could be enough to get him on the roster. Anderson — who essentially functioned as a wide receiver at Cal — was signed by the Houston Texans, whose roster is mostly deplete of receivers to take the load off of DeAndre Hopkins’ shoulders.