A year ago, the Rams were a few weeks removed from drafting Todd Gurley with the 10th-overall pick. And while some folks (us included) were skeptical about taking a running back that high, Gurley immediately proved himself worthy. In 13 games, he rushed for 1,106 yards (4.8 YPC) and 10 touchdowns, was easily the Rams' most dynamic playmaker, and earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Fast-forward to the 2016 NFL Draft, where the Rams traded up to No. 1 to grab their latest franchise quarterback, Jared Goff. On Friday, Gurley was asked about his new backfield partner.
"Great kid. Couldn't ask for a better QB. We are just excited to have him (here)," Gurley said during an appearance on NFL Network. "He's definitely learning. He's getting better. Just excited to play the upcoming season with him."
Despite previous proclamations from Rams' brass, the expectation is that Goff will be the starting quarterback from Day 1. There's little risk in throwing him right into the mix, and it will certainly help to have Gurley sharing some of the burden.
That said, history has not been kind to quarterbacks drafted first or second overall. We wrote about this back in April and the findings are sobering. Since 1970, the average winning percentage of quarterbacks taken either No. 1 or No. 2 is .514. Remove Peyton Manning and it drops to .496. (Of course, wins aren't the best measure of quarterback success -- there are also things like Pro-Football-Reference.com's Career Approximate Value, and more conventional stats like completion percentage, yards per attempt and TD-to-INT ratios, which we discussed here.)
Then again, the Rams are well aware of the uncertainty that comes with the first-overall pick. They lived it back in 2010, when they drafted Sam Bradford, whose history of injuries followed him to the NFL. In four seasons in St. Louis, Bradford missed 15 games and only once (in an injury-shortened '13 season) had a passer rating of at least 90.0. But we'll repeat what we've said for months: What do the Rams have to lose? They've been mediocre since Fisher arrived, and there's no reason to think they wouldn't have been mediocre -- or worse -- again in 2016 with Nick Foles or Case Keenum under center.
If they can now manage Goff in much the same way guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and even Colin Kaepernick early in his career were brought along, there's reason to believe the Rams could be something more than average -- and maybe even a legit playoff contender. With a stifling defense, and a Gurley-led running game, this is a great situation for a promising young quarterback to get on-the-job training.