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Cardinals select Jared Goff in Sports Illustrated’s 2016 re-draft

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, left, throws under pressure from Arizona Cardinals free safety D.J. Swearinger during the second of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

After evaluating their rookie seasons, Sports Illustrated re-drafted the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, with the Arizona Cardinals going in an interesting direction.

The re-draft begins with the Los Angeles Rams, who do not select Jared Goff but instead bring Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott from 135 to first overall.

Goff doesn’t leave the NFC West, though. The Cardinals draft him instead of defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche with the 29th pick.

Sports Illustrated recognized that the choice may seem odd at first.

Hear me out, because this one might not be popular. Goff remains a Round 1 pick despite his disastrous debut because the curve was always going to be steep for a prospect with that much to learn and that little of a supporting cast behind him. Bruce Arians seems like the kind of coach who would say yes to Goff’s howitzer of an arm and figure out the details later, and with Carson Palmer returning for one more year, Arizona could limit the pressure to play Goff that constantly swirled in L.A.

Goff, a 22-year-old out of Cal, certainly did not look like a first overall pick in his limited time as a rookie. In seven starts, Goff completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 1,089 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was sacked 22 times and fumbled five times, losing two.

The argument from SI, however, does have some merit. Goff wasn’t ready for the spotlight with a limited Rams team, so perhaps a team like the Cardinals makes sense. They have an established veteran but know the clock is ticking. Coach Bruce Arians would like a quarterback like Goff, who is 6-foot-4 and has a strong throwing arm.

On top of that, Nkemdiche didn’t wow Arizona in his rookie season either. He has dealt with ankle injuries during the early season and was ineffective when he finally took the field. In five games, he recorded only one tackle and one pass defensed.

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