The past few years, when the New England Patriots drafted quarterbacks like Matt Cassel or Ryan Mallett, it never seemed like they would be Tom Brady's successor. Brady still had many years left and the other quarterbacks weren't drafted that high.
But Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo might be the guy to become that trivia answer.
Garoppolo was taken by New England with the 62nd overall pick, near the end of the second round. That's the highest the Patriots have drafted a quarterback since Brady become the starter. Brady is going to be 37 in August. Do the math.
The Patriots met with many of the top quarterbacks before the draft, an indication they were getting serious about the post-Brady era, although Brady had a fantastic 2013 and presumably can play a few more great years.
Garoppolo is an interesting pick. The Patriots could have gone with a quarterback who showed his talents against better competition, like Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Pitt's Tom Savage or Clemson's Tajh Boyd. Instead they went with a relative unknown in college who will likely be in an intense spotlight in a few years when Brady steps aside.
Garoppolo won the Walter Payton Award as the FCS' top player last year, and he opened eyes when he threw for 450 yards and six touchdowns against Northern Illinois. If the Patriots trade Mallett before the season, Garoppolo will go from playing at Eastern Illinois to being Brady's backup.
"I've been looking up to him since I was a little kid, when I started playing quarterback," Garoppolo said on ESPN about Brady.
Garoppolo has some good physical skills, such as the quick release that gets brought up a lot. He'll need to have some good mental toughness too. What he's stepping into in New England won't be easy.
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