Hidden in the midst of a crowded Quarterback draft class is a young man with a very interesting story(and name): Jimmy Garoppolo. A four-year starter at Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo broke Tony Romo’s school records for career passing TDs and passing yards, and went on to win the Walter Payton award in 2013. In each of his four years at Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo’s TD numbers increased(14, 20, 31, 51 respectively), while his INT numbers went down his senior year(from 15 his junior year to only 9 his senior year). The reason Garoppolo is not a household name is because of one big(or, small?) reason: he went to a very small school and faced weaker competition than guys like Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and Teddy Bridgewater. Does this mean he won’t succeed in the NFL? Most certainly not. Lets break him down:
Measurements: Garoppolo stands at a solid 6’2” and weighs 222 lbs. Pretty standard size for an NFL QB, maybe an inch or two on the smaller side, but nothing worth worrying about.
-Phenomenally quick release. This aspect of his game jumps out at you after watching him throw any kind of a pass(short, intermediate, or deep).
-Scans the field well and makes quick decisions. His quick release helps in this area, as he is able to find targets fast and get them the ball quickly, often times before the defender has time to react to the throwing motion.
-Throws with good velocity, especially on intermediate routes.
-Throws a beautiful fade route. This route continuously pops up on his film, and he continuously hits his receiver perfectly.
-Puts a good arch on his deep balls, dropping the ball into the perfect spot more often than not.
-Can fit passes into tight windows.
-Solid, but not elite arm strength.
-Accuracy can be inconsistent, but for the most part it’s good.
-Can sense “ghost pressure” at times when nobody is there.
-Decision making can be questionable, especially when rushed. He has a habit of panicking and throwing to blanketed receivers which he will need to get over if he wants to have success in the pros.
-Rarely throws the ball away.
-Can run if yards are given to him, but wont pick up many first downs with his legs. However, he can roll out of the pocket and deliver good, accurate passes.
-Faced weaker competition, but eased some of these concerns with a solid Senior Bowl outing.
What’s his attitude like? His head seems to be on straight. He seems to be humble, and has a good understanding that football is a team game, not an individual game. Interviews later on in the draft process will provide better insight.
NFL Comparison: Tony Romo. Yes, they went to the same college, but they are also very similar players. They both have a lightning-quick release, are roughly the same size, and struggle with the occasional bonehead play. Lets just hope if the Vikings do decide to draft Garoppolo, he doesn’t consistently blow big games game-ending interceptions.
Draft Prediction: Somewhere in the second round. Now, things can change a lot between now and the draft, but as it stands he looks like a safe bet to be a second round pick. This is good news for the Vikings, because if they do choose to go this route, they can choose a defensive stud in the first, such as Khalil Mack, Justin Gilbert, or Anthony Barr.
Is he a fit? This is the question that the Vikings Scouting Staff will have to determine. Norv Turner loves taking shots down-field(particularly when the ball is at midfield). Does Garoppolo have the arm-strength to consistently deliver deep-balls? Not Christian Ponder “deep balls”, but legit, 50 yard deep balls? Will he be able to force defenses to respect the pass, thus opening running lanes for AD? Only time will tell, and the NFL Combine will go a long way in answering these questions.
Wrap-Up: Jimmy Garoppolo is a very intriguing prospect with a lot of potential. Like every player(except, maybe Andrew Luck), he has his pros and cons, but his biggest question is whether or not he can translate his success from a small-school environment to the NFL. I hope this breakdown has given all of you a better knowledge on a potential future signal-caller of the Minnesota Vikings. Go ahead and leave your opinions in the comments below, and you can follow me on twitter @jackmack28. Thanks for reading, and as always, Skol!