Jared Goff picked first and L.A. Live celebrates

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LOS ANGELES – Jared Goff was drafted on Thursday by the Los Angeles Rams with their No. 1 pick all the way in Chicago, but within an hour and a half of putting on his new blue and gold cap, the quarterback was talking to fans in L.A.

“It’s awesome, unbelievable, an unreal experience,” Goff said on a Skype call projected on a big screen at L.A. Live. “I was pretty confident, but at the same time you never know. I want to come in and work as hard as I can and bring a lot of wins.”

Rams mascot Rampage excites the crowd
Rams mascot Rampage excites the crowd

His words set off an explosion of cheers from thousands of Rams fans who’d been invited to the private party for putting down deposits for season tickets.

The quarterback from Cal shared his enthusiasm about playing with Rams stars like running back Todd Gurley.

“It’s big, it’s big especially as a rookie quarterback, to be able to rely on those guys, pass them the ball,” Goff said.

The Novato, California native also answered some of his fans’ burning questions, via the event’s emcee Kara Henderson-Sneak, a former NFL Network analyst and wife of Rams General Manager Les Snead.

Would he wear No. 16, the same number he wore for Cal football and the same number as his Bay Area idol Joe Montana? “Yes,” Goff said.

Quarterback Jared Goff of Cal, who was the first pick in the draft. (Claudia Gestro)
Quarterback Jared Goff of Cal, who was the first pick in the draft. (Claudia Gestro)

Was he ready to move from NorCal to SoCal? “I’m ready, I’m ready,” he said.

Would he convert from a San Francisco Giants to Los Angeles Dodgers fan? On that one, Goff, twisted his lip in indecision. “We’ll see, we’ll see. Hopefully!” he said.

In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, the football world wondered if the Rams would select Goff or North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, with the No. 1 pick they won by giving a big bundle of draft picks to Tennessee earlier this month.

On stage Thursday shortly after the 5 p.m. decision, Les Snead made it clear he was after Goff all along. The general manager recounted he wouldn’t go to dinner until he had seen enough of Goff playing at Cal. Les Snead liked what he saw.

“He’s got a unique arm … it’s a flip of a wrist, he’s accurate,” the general manager said.

The Rams in the past four years have “suffered in offense” and “went from bad to worse,” Les Snead said. “We were finally able to bring stability back to the quarterback position and that’s what we did today.”

Former Rams running back Eric Dickerson said the general manager “fell in love” with Goff and the team “got the guy we wanted.”

While Wentz – taken by Philadelphia at No. 2 – impressed at the FCS level, Goff faced a far higher level of competition.

Golf’s new teammates and former Rams at L.A. Live.
Golf’s new teammates and former Rams at L.A. Live.

Retired offensive tackle Jackie Slater, who played his entire 20-year career with the Rams including 1995 when they moved from Los Angeles to St. Louis, said this wasn’t the first time he’d seen the organization make such a move.

“Years ago, the Rams gave up (picks) for the right to draft (quarterback) Jim Everett. I thought I was the luckiest guy, and the list goes on,” Slater said. “I’m sure the young players on this team are saying the same thing about Goff. He’s someone who can put them on the map.”

Goff’s new teammates also seemed happy with the choice.

“The guys upstairs had their calculations. I think it was a homerun,” Rams punter Johnny Hekker said. “We’re going to wreck some havoc in the NFC west.”

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, a native of Stockton in Northern California, added, “Cal!” And, “He’s mobile!”

Fans at L.A. Live were in equally good spirits.

“Either one was going to be good, but Goff was playing with division 1 teams,” said Jerry Krecicki, 52, of Hollywood. “He’s a great quarterback and it’s historical just to be part of this right now, the first time in 20 years. Not like the normal draft pick.”

The Rams cheerleaders performed for the fans at L.A. Live.
The Rams cheerleaders performed
for the fans at L.A. Live.

The Rams Cheerleaders in millennium blue sequins outfits performed for the first time and the team’s mascot, Rampage, took pictures and selfies with fans. There were Rams flags and jerseys that will soon come in No. 16 Goff.

The Rams’ next pick, No. 110, is on Saturday.

But they’ve undoubtedly already got who they set out for. And he’s touching down in Los Angeles before the Rams put in their next pick.

“I’ll be down there tomorrow,” Goff said on Skype.

All photos by Jessica Kwong unless otherwise noted.
Video below by Claudia Gestro