Five years from now, Jimmy Garoppolo may very well be viewed as Tom Brady II and people will look back on the 2014 NFL Draft the same way they now look back on the 2000 NFL Draft.
“The Patriots did it again!” they’ll say.
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But it’s important to note now – before we get too far removed from the 2014 selection process – that the Pats targeted Garoppolo, and the Brady selection was likely more dumb luck than anything.
Garoppolo was 62nd out of 256 players taken in the 2014 draft while Brady was the 199th out of 254 players taken 14 years ago.
Despite coming out of tiny Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo was well thought of heading into draft season late last winter. In fact, in a Sporting News story from February, Garoppolo was ranked the third best quarterback of the 2014 draft, ahead of both Johnny Manziel (picked 22nd overall by Cleveland) and Derek Carr (picked 36th overall by Oakland). Here’s the Sporting News’ glowing take on Garoppolo from seven months ago:
“Possessing a remarkably quick release and ample arm strength, Jimmy Garoppolo once he quickly identifies an open receiver, is able to deliver the ball faster than any quarterback in this class … His mental capacity and arm talent should keep him from escaping the Top 100 picks and he could go as high as the early second round.”
The two quarterbacks that were ranked ahead of Garoppolo at the time – Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles – were both knocked right out of the gate in their Sporting News summaries. On Bridgewater: “Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t have elite arm strength.” On Bortles: “Blake Bortles’ lack of development is what’s keeping him from being a worthwhile first round pick.”
It’s clear that Garoppolo had been high on the list of many scouts and “NFL people” prior to the Patriots’ somewhat surprising selection of him in May. Looking back on that praise should give New England fans even more faith that Bill Belichick made the right move by jettisoning backup quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Texans this past weekend. Now, it remains to be seen if Garoppolo is good enough to be the man that finally takes over for Brady when No. 12 can’t get the job done anymore. But not since Drew Bledsoe will the second in command man get more attention than Garoppolo will this season. At this point, it’s safe to say that attention follows him.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS