NFL Draft: Jimmy Garoppolo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shows no signs of decline, but the team isn't taking any chances. Hence the selection of Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the NFL draft (62nd overall), one of the more surprising league-wide picks.

[+] EnlargeJimmy Garoppolo
Bradley Leeb/USA TODAY Sports"The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of drafting Jimmy Garoppolo.
“The situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future. I think you're better off being early rather than late at that position,” coach Bill Belichick said late Friday night.

It was a straightforward acknowledgement from a coach who often prefers to avoid them. "Life after Brady” has been bantered about only on sports talk radio in the region, but this is the first time the Patriots have publicly said it is part of their mindset as well.

Brady will be 37 this upcoming season, but is still playing at an extremely high level and is signed through 2017. Because of this, and also the presence of No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett -- who is under contract through the 2014 season -- debate was already raging locally Friday night as to whether the Patriots wasted such a high draft pick on a player who might not see the field for four seasons, if ever. That doesn't figure to subside anytime soon.

Meanwhile, in New York, Garoppolo noted the similarities between his draft-day wait and how the Green Bay Packers selected sliding signal-caller Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 first round as Brett Favre's heir apparent. He said it worked out for Rodgers, and now he hopes the same happens for him.

When might that be?

Up to this point, it hasn't been on the Patriots' radar. Now it is at least a consideration.

“We know what Ryan's contract situation is, we know what Tom's age and contract situation is, and I don't think you want to have one quarterback on your team,” Belichick explained. “I don't think that's responsible to the entire team or the organization.”

One needs only to look at the 2011 Indianapolis Colts as a prime example. When Peyton Manning was lost to a season-ending neck injury that year, the season went down with him, and it ultimately cost vice chairman (and current ESPN analyst) Bill Polian his job.

As for Garoppolo, Belichick said he spent one-on-one time with him this spring and “he has a lot of qualities that we admire in a quarterback.” Scouts have touted his smarts, anticipation and work ethic, and he looks like an ideal fit for the team's hard-driving program.

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The Houston Texans, it seems, had similar thoughts, as Garoppolo was believed to be a strong consideration for them at the top of the third round before the Patriots made the pick.

So instead, Garoppolo comes to New England to back up Brady and potentially replace him down the line.

Maybe it's in four years. Maybe it's longer.

Either way, for the first time, the Patriots let us know a potential succession is on their minds as well.

In their view, it's better to be early than late.
Odell Beckham Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsOdell Beckham's ability to separate quickly from press coverage would aid Ben Roethlisberger.
We spend so much time during the draft process talking about the potential top-10 picks that one thing with the potential to get lost about this year’s class is just how strong it is overall, particularly in its depth. Teams are going to be able to find some high-level talents later in the first round, as well as the second round and afterward.

For this article, we’ve identified some perfect team-prospect matches featuring players who project to be taken outside the top 10 but could have a big impact in the NFL, particularly if paired with these specific teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU


Beckham isn’t likely to get past the first round, so outside of a trade situation, the Steelers would likely have to use the No. 15 overall pick to get him, and Pittsburgh could go in a number of directions with that pick. But Beckham feels like a really good fit with what the Steelers want to do offensively.

East-West Shrine Game: Review 

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
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Tommy Rees, Ethan WestbrooksAP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackEthan Westbrooks made an impression on Tommy Rees and the East-West Shrine Game.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 89th East-West Shrine game is officially in the books as the East beat the West 23-13, and an FCS prospect outplayed a Heisman finalist -- as he has all week.

Two quarterbacks on the East team, Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo and Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch, had two different types of games and a lot of it had to do with how they used their eyes.

Other than quick hitters, Garoppolo, who won the offensive MVP award, scanned the field and used his eyes to manipulate the coverage. He also kept his eyes downfield when the West flushed him out of the pocket.

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East-West Shrine Game: Day 1 

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
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Jordan LynchChristopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsHeisman Trophy finalist and Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch showed his skills -- and an erratic arm.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Practices for the 89th East-West Shrine Game kicked off today and there were several NFL talent evaluators looking for a player -- or players -- who can help their team the way running back Zac Stacy, who played for the East last January, helped the Rams in 2013.

East head coach Jerry Glanville and West head coach Romeo Crennel approached their first practices in different ways. The East practiced in full pads and featured plenty of contact in the earlier practice, while the West practiced in helmets and stressed installation of schemes over physicality in the second practice of the day.

There were more mistakes in the first practice, but evaluators prefer Glanville's approach because they understand players are trying to pick up what they are being asked to do, so the scouts expect mistakes.

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