With a draft class that lacks a true franchise quarterback, many teams may go after a player such as Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo, a 6’3 222-pound senior out of the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, has been gaining NFL draft buzz throughout the year in leading the FCS in passing yards (5,050) and passing touchdowns(53). For his career, Garoppolo has passed for over 10,000 yards(13,156), 118 touchdowns and 51 interceptions.
Thanks to a quick and compact release, he has been compared to another Eastern Illinois alum—Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Like Romo, Garoppolo has a smooth and effortless throwing motion. In addition, Garoppolo—like Romo in 2002—became the second Eastern Illnois player to receive the prestigious Walter Payton Award, awarded annually to the most outstanding offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Does this mean that Garoppolo is a top-ten pick in the 2014 Draft?
Considering the marginal pool of prospects in Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Tajh Boyd and A.J. McCarron, depending on his performance in the NFL Scouting Combine and Senior Bowl, Garoppolo could vault into the late first round. While some may see him as a day two target, Garoppolo has the opportunity to shake up draft boards—a la Ryan Tannehill.
Before naysayers and critics dismiss Garoppolo for playing in a “small school” consider that Yeremiah Bell(Eastern Kentucky), Joe Flacco(Delaware), Robert Mathis(Alabama A&M), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(Tennessee State), Julius Thomas(Portland State), Lardarius Webb(Nicolls State), Victor Cruz (Massachusetts), Kurt Warner(Northern Iowa) and the aforementioned Romo all came into the NFL with that proverbial “small school” chip on their shoulder, the fact that NFL scouts and executive are wise to give Garoppolo a look, in fearing of missing out on a draft-day steal.
Teams that have either a spread/vertical or West Coast-type of offense may target Garoppolo on day two—or if they are really bold—in the first round. The only question that remains is which one will be daring enough to roll the dice?