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2014 NFL Draft: Rising QB Garoppolo snags Senior Bowl spot

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Momentum can quickly translate into a rise up draft boards and a much heftier rookie NFL paycheck, and Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is positioning himself as one of the early risers in the pre-NFL draft circuit.

My top quarterback prospect entering Shrine Game practices, Garoppolo lived up to the billing, showing off an NFL arm, excellent eye use to scan the field and an extremely quick and efficient release - all attributes he displayed on film. Garoppolo, who measured in at 6-feet-2 and 225 pounds, isn't a flawless prospect and also has some areas he needs to improve.

Coming from a spread, shotgun offensive attack at the FCS-level, there are some transition questions, but Garoppolo will be able to further answer those concerns at the Senior Bowl, suiting up on the South squad under the direction of the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff after Alabama's A.J. McCarron announced he will not take part in any pre-draft all-star games.

Garoppolo, who will play in Saturday's Shrine Game, currently ranks as's No. 9 overall quarterback and No. 3 Senior Bowl quarterback, behind Fresno State's Derek Carr (No. 20 overall, No. 4 quarterback) and San Jose State's David Fales (No. 72/No. 6), who are both also on the Senior Bowl's South Team.

Garoppolo's career included a record-breaking senior season that led to the 2013 Walter Payton Award after throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns. He recorded 11 300-plus-yard games in 2013, and five with 400-plus while throwing just nine interceptions in 568 attempts. He was also named first team FCS All-American by the Associated Press.

Garoppolo leaves the college ranks with 13,156 passing yards and 118 passing touchdowns in his career.

STRENGTHS: Good, not great, height, body type and hand size. Better than adequate arm strength with a snap release that produces some juice. Live arm with his experience coming from a pass-happy offense.

Excellent passing vision with quick eyes to scan and a quick, natural delivery. Smart and executes the offense well. Quick intellectual process on the football field. Above average timing with little unnecessary movements and very good pace in his set-up.

Quick feet to evade pressure with the pocket mobility to move his lower body with his eyes focused downfield. Gets "happy feet" at times, but shows the ability to reset. Very good touch and overall placement with improved accuracy to all levels of the field throughout his career.

Level-headed and always under control with a strong leadership presence. Confident thrower and short memory. Elite career production as a four-year starter at the FCS level.

WEAKNESSES: Lack of elite velocity will show on some NFL throws. Needs to continue to improve his decision-making and not allow pressure to severely alter his process. Bad habit of forcing throws in small windows. Lower-than-ideal release point with an almost side-arm motion.

Needs to get his feet under control on a consistent basis and regularly step into his throws. Must continue and develop his pocket awareness and internal clock to feel pressure. Holds the ball too long at times and will take unnecessary hits.

Experience is in a FCS spread, shotgun attack; needs to become more acclimated with under-center snaps.

COMPARES TO: Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys - The comparison goes beyond coming from the same college program. Both lack elite physical skills, but are productive due to their timing, smarts and quick release to get the ball out.

Garoppolo is much more than a funny looking last name. He isn't the biggest and lacks a huge arm, but he has an above average understanding of offensive football and uses his quick eyes and touch to push the ball downfield. He grades as a top 100 prospect for several NFL scouts, and could continue to rise with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl.

WHAT NFL SCOUTS ARE SAYING: "His delivery is the best I've seen in the last five years. He sees the field, makes the read and gets the ball out fast. Everything is a tick faster in the league so that efficient delivery is a big coup for his NFL future." - NFC North Scout

(Dane Brugler is an analyst for, a property of The Sports Xchange distributed in partnership with
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