Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scouting the 2014 NFL Draft: Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo is a guy who has been getting more and more hype as the season closed and he performed well at both the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. I love college football, but I will admit that I have never seen a second of Eastern Illinois in my entire life. Usually I can find some game tape cut up of performances, but I wasn't able to get that same experience for Garoppolo. Instead, I sifted through highlight videos to try to see what he does well and what he can work on. I found a highlight against Illinois State and all the big plays from his game against Northern Illinois.

The first thing that stood out about Garoppolo is his deep accuracy. He throws a nice deep ball as he shows on back-to-back plays here.

His receiver gets a little separation, and he only has to slightly slow down for the ball, but overall, this is an impressive throw from Garoppolo.The second ball is not as deep, but it's still a ball down the field that he throws accurately.

Along those same lines, this is an even more impressive deep ball.

He recognizes the pressure, gets rid of the ball quickly, and still hits his receiver in stride for an easy touchdown. Deep ball accuracy is something that nearly every college quarterback struggles with, so to see this sort of accuracy is very impressive.

His accuracy is not something that he only possesses on deep balls as it carries over to the short and intermediate routes as well. He throws a nice slant here that leads his receiver perfectly.

Even with the play action, he gets it out quick enough where his receiver can tuck before getting destroyed by the safety over the middle.

From what I have seen, he's not going to wow anybody with his arm strength, but it looks sufficient to be successful at the next level. He's not firing bullets, but he has zip on the ball, and it looks good on film.

One thing that I have to bring up when watching all of these highlights is that it is clear that this is a lower level of football. In nearly every player, they are either noticeably smaller or slower than their counterparts at the FBS level. A lot of times, they are both smaller and slower. So although Garoppolo throwing for 480 yards and seven touchdowns is impressive, the level of competition takes a little of the shine off those numbers.

On the downside, he's not great with pressure.

The reverse bailing out method to deal with pressure is a great way to lose a lot of yards, and that is what happens here. Bailing out on the pocket and turning your back to the line of scrimmage rarely works out well, and it is not a good habit to start.

Along with his problems with pressure, he is not great at reading the field when his first option is not open. He recognizes that there is a blitz coming, but his offensive line actually picks it up well. Still, he panics and barely looks to his left before throwing the ball.

Had he taken a second to read the defense to that side, he would not have thrown that ball as the cornerback has underneath coverage and the safety is over the top. Instead, he badly underthrows the ball which leads to an easy interception for Northern Illinois.

Reading the defense is a concern, but it is a skill that he has shown that he can do. This is a really nice play from him and another beautiful deep ball.

This is an essential skill to being a successful quarterback, so even though he may not have shown it consistently, even seeing flashes gives me hope that it is a skill he can develop in the future.

This is my favorite throw that I saw of his. He definitely has the best fade ball out of all of the prospects, and I would honestly put his touch on the fade route up against any pro quarterback. It doesn't get better than this.

That is just unfair. The defender has good coverage, but the ball is placed perfectly, and there is nothing he can do. Just a beautiful throw.

I really like Jimmy Garoppolo, but to be totally honest, this is the least comfortable I feel about grading any quarterback. There just wasn't a lot to go off of that was readily available to me. Still, there are a lot of positives in his game. He is definitely the most accurate deep passer that I have seen so far and may be the most accurate quarterback overall. Still, everything at the FCS level is a step slower, and that does discount some of what he is able to do. How much is the big question. He really struggled with pressure, but some of those times, his offensive line just got completely blown up by Northern Illinois, and there's not much any quarterback could have done in those situations. His ability to read defenses is inconsistent, and overall, I would put it as a weakness for him currently. Those are my big concerns. But I keep coming back to that accuracy and some of the best fade throws that I have seen from any quarterback. Drafting any quarterback is a gamble as it is a huge step up from college football to the NFL. Drafting someone from the FCS increases that risk. Still, I see the tools to be successful, and that accuracy is attractive enough that I would put him ahead of Zach Mettenberger on my draft board, although I still see a large gap between him and Blake Bortles.

Here are my quarterback rankings for the prospects I have looked at so far:
1. Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville
2. Blake Bortles - Central Florida

3. Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois
4. Zach Mettenberger - Louisiana State
5. Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech

6. Brett Smith - Wyoming
7. Aaron Murray - Georgia

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