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NFL Fits for Cal Draftees

Kirby Lee - USA Today

This year’s NFL draft was literally headlined by the California Golden Bears, and the program got an outstanding amount of positive coverage as a result, but Jared Goff wasn’t the only one heading to the pros this year. Below, we’ll take a look at our other future Sunday stars and their respective draft situations. (A closer look at the UDFAs will follow later this week.)

Jared Goff - #1 overall, 1st round – Los Angeles Rams

In their move up to the #1 spot, we already knew the Rams would be committed to building around Jared Goff, but if you want to know exactly to what extent, look no further than their non-Goff draft picks this year: two tight ends, and two wide receivers, with only one pick coming on the defensive side of the ball. Still, it’s going to be a work in progress around Goff, because the talent on offense, particularly in the pass-catcher department, is a tad thin. Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt are fine players, but neither is exactly #1 receiver material.

Most likely, Jeff Fisher, Mike Groh, and Rob Boras will lean heavily on Todd Gurley as they get Goff acclimated to the NFL, bit by bit. And Gurley should also benefit from Goff’s addition -- defenses hardly respected Foles as a deep thrower, but will surely need to take Goff more seriously, which spells less defenders in the box.

Troubling, though, is the group of linemen that are in front of Goff, most of whom were largely sub-par on the PFF grading scale last year. Good thing he’s already used to creating protection himself with his movement under pressure –something that I suspect played into Los Angeles’ decision to draft him over Wentz.

Trevor Davis - #163, 5th round – Green Bay Packers

A lot time in between Goff and the next Bear, but talk about a match made in heaven. Davis gets to learn and grow under the tutelage of, oh, I don’t know, the last great Cal quarterback and one of the top three guys in the league at his position. He’s heading to a place with a college teammate – Richard Rodgers! – and he’s heading to an offense that wants to, and will throw the ball.

There’s a real opportunity for Davis to stick here, because the Packer passing game suffered massively without Jordy Nelson, and although Nelson will be back, it’s certainly possible for Davis to beat out the likes of Devante Adams, Ty Montgomery, and Jared Abbredaris to hang on to a roster spot, none of whom exactly lit the world on fire in his absence. Davis certainly brings a dimension that none of those three do as a downfield burner – his 4.42 is a tenth of a second faster than anyone in that group, and even if he is not competitive in the receiving rotation, he’s got a plus trait as a returner/special teams player, which could be the kind of x-factor that keeps him on a roster regardless.

Kenny Lawler - #243, 7th round – Seattle

Although many in the Cal community expected him to go much earlier, Lawler’s stock likely dropped a bit this year from a combination of injury, decreased production, and subpar test numbers at the combine; his 40 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, and three cone drill ranked in the 11th percentile or worse among combine attendees, and he still remains on the thin side, to boot. Still, Lawler is a talented red zone threat with a tremendous catch radius, and those are skills that likely caught Seattle’s eye when they took him in the 7th round. Many in the Seattle draft community believe he could be a steal. You have to figure that Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse are pretty safe, so he’ll be competing for one of the backup wide receiver spots in the final 53, at least to start.

Daniel Lasco - #237, 7th round – New Orleans

I love this situation for Lasco, who is a talented pass-catcher out of the backfield. Sean Payton and Drew Brees have driven teams mad for nearly a decade with how flexibly they’ve used running backs in the pass game, whether that’s been Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, or Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, who caught 74 passes between them last season. Mark Ingram enters as the presumptive #1 back this season, but there is room for Lasco to make noise behind him. I’ve long believed that Lasco, a strong athlete already, is a complete, three down back who only needs an opportunity to showcase it consistently. New Orleans should be a great place for him to do that.

Like Davis, Lasco is another guy who could stick around in a special teams capacity, having made a highlight reel at Cal out of destroying poor returners. The Saints could stick him there, too, even as he’s playing for a spot in their backfield full-time.