It’s easy to get scared of a 2014 NFL Draft prospect because of his school. If you asked anyone if they wanted a quarterback from somewhere like Georgia or Eastern Illinois, the choice would probably lean towards the SEC guy almost 100% of the time, and deservingly so. What if we’re talking about Jimmy Garoppolo?
You probably don’t follow Eastern Illinois football very intently, (if you do, you know where I’m heading) but this impressive quarterback is someone to watch until May. Garoppolo is shredding the stereotype that small-school players are no good. All you have to do is turn on the tape, and you’ll see a future NFL player.
Coincidentally, Tony Romo also graduated from Eastern Illinois. To make things even stranger, Garoppolo plays a pretty similar game to the current Dallas Cowboy. I’ve been able to watch his tape intently… let’s just say if NFL scouts are seeing the tape the same way I am, they are going to love what he brings to the table.
All this kid needs are a few weapons, and he is going to make things happen with his great deep ball. The mechanics are there, the little things show up on tape, and there’s not much to dislike if you’re a quarterback-needy team. He dropped a few perfect passes in his game against Tennessee State—the game that was the final convincing piece of the puzzle to make me put him higher in my rankings.
The thing that makes him different than someone like Derek Carr is a somewhat unfair fact that he just doesn’t play great defenses. Where Carr puts up great numbers against Boise State, Garropolo plays teams like Jacksonville State. You can’t say that Derek Carr is leaps and bounds above Garropolo, but there has to be questions regarding his potential performance against great players.
I see a team investing a mid-round pick in the Eastern Illinois QB, but I find it hard to believe that he will start right away. With time, Garropolo is going to be a serious contender for a starting job in a few years. Don’t look away because of his school’s name; look closer because of this kid’s skills.
A team like the Arizona Cardinals would be someone to look at. After Carson Palmer, who starts for Bruce Arians’ team? Look for the Cleveland Browns or the Jacksonville Jaguars at the top of the second, assuming they go elsewhere in the first.