At just 22 years old, Jimmy Garoppolo saw his life change on the evening of May 8. He was projected to be a second-round pick, and that is exactly where he was drafted. The New England Patriots selected him as the 62nd overall pick, late in the second round. Just minutes earlier, Garoppolo was just a college quarterback trying to make it in the NFL, but suddenly he was the newest member of one of the most prestigious franchises in the league. Now under the command of coach Bill Belichick, Garoppolo would be playing alongside arguably one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, Tom Brady.
At 6-foot-2 and 226 pounds, Garoppolo is of similar build to Brady; however ,their playing styles are quite different. Brady, who rarely runs and hates being forced out of the pocket, is all about precision. His throws are nearly always on target, he clearly has a history of making big plays and is able to keep his composure in even the most stressful of football situations. He has led his team to victory countless times and has shown little signs of slowing down. Garoppolo, although no Colin Kaepernick, is good on his feet and comfortable making shorts runs. This skill has become increasingly more important in today’s style of football, where several young stars have a playing style more reminiscent of a running back than a quarterback.
One trait these two quarterbacks share is their ability to lead a team. Brady has been a captain for the Patriots for years, while Garoppolo was considered a great team leader during his time at Eastern Illinois University. Well-respected by his teammates for his toughness and willingness to learn, Garoppolo should benefit even further by having Brady as his mentor.
The question any Patriots fan should be asking is whether or not this will be the guy who takes over for Brady when he retires. His playing style is certainly reflective of what we are currently seeing in the NFL, but what makes a team like New England so successful is the ability to play old-school style football. While Brady may not be as agile as Kaepernick or Russell Wilson, his pass offense and that infamous quarterback sneak are among the best we will ever see, despite his fear of the run.
The Patriots have been competitive for well over a decade at this point because of this style of play. I am a firm believer that the quarterback does not need to be another running back on the field in order to be successful. With Brady at his side, Garoppolo will hopefully see the value in this.
There is no telling what the future holds, but envisioning anyone other than Brady leading the Patriots on the offensive end is a bit unsettling. Garoppolo found some success in college, but as we have seen many times before, the NFL can rip young players to shreds. While he owns many positive traits any coach and teammate would want to see in a QB, in the long run, he may not be the answer for New England. The hope is that the Belichick/Brady genius rubs off on his just a little. If it does, he is already one step ahead of the opposition.