Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois (Stephen Haas/AP)
The New England Patriots selected dominant but often-injured defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the first round, and they've gone with another player who may have to wait a a while to see the field in a meaningful sense with their second-round pick. The Pats went with Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who will presumably have a tough time beating out Tom Brady for a starting slot. However, he's a fine developmental prospect. Garoppolo was on the map a bit after winning the Walter Payton Award in 2013 for throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns, but he really hit the national radar when he enjoyed a solid week at the Senior Bowl, becoming the most famous Eastern Illinois import since Tony Romo.
Garoppolo has good touch to the short and intermediate areas of the field -- he understands how to arc the ball over defenders and can throw his receivers open to a degree. Smart player who can pick up a playbook quickly and implement it well. Has the arm to make deep throws, through there aren’t a lot of stick throws from 15 yards and out on tape. Throws with an efficient overhead delivery that won’t need much adjustment at the next level. Does run play-action out of the pistol and throws well out of it. One of Garoppolo’s primary assets is his ability to throw his receivers open -- that is, to lead his receivers away from defenders with excellent ball placement. Slightly undersized at 6-foot-2 and 226, but his delivery makes him throw slightly taller.
The most vexing issue is the fact that Garoppolo gets skittish under the slightest pressure -- he gets happy feet, bails from the pocket and throws too early. Did not run a multi-read offense -- most of Garoppolo’s throws are first-read open concepts, and combined with his pressure issues, he could really struggle when asked to stick and stay in the pocket. Doesn’t always throw from his feet up to gain optimal velocity — Garoppolo has a tendency to dance and reset in the pocket even when he isn’t pressured. Has issues with accuracy on the run, leading to errant throws he should be able to make with his athleticism. There are still questions -- legitimate ones -- about the competition he’s faced.