Setting: National Football League Draft
Radio City Music Hall May 9th, 2014
The New England Patriots are sitting pretty with the 62nd pick in this year’s draft, and they’re almost up..The buzz around the league is that the Patriots are in the market for prospects who could come in and contribute immediately.Tom Brady – still elite – is showing no signs of slowing down but his window for another championship is getting tighter.
Willie McGinest steps up to the podium, nods to the crowd and calmly makes the pick.
WHO?!?! The guy out of Eastern Illinois? The guy who broke all of Tony Romo’s record’s there? Wait, the Quarterback?!? Yeah, that guy. The quarterback.
The Patriots defied all logic and spent an important and valuable 2nd round draft pick on a player who had no shot at contributing right away. Flash forward to today, Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T, Bill Belichick is still Bill Belichick, and the patriots have two new Super Bowls to add to their collection. Oh yeah and that second round pick? He’s now one of the most sought after trade pieces of the 2017 NFL off-season with some experts saying he could go for as much as two 1st rounders in the upcoming draft. All for a guy who has only started in two NFL games and has a meager 93 passes thrown in the NFL.
Well, I guess Bill does it again.
WHY DO TEAMS WANT JIMMY?
It can’t only be for his great hair and pearly white smile. I mean the guy is as handsome as the day is long, but he must be good…right?
Jimmy has two NFL starts under his belt (all of which came in the 2016 season) in his three year career. In those two starts he threw for 502 yards, with 4 touchdowns, no interceptions and two turnovers. With a completion percentage of 70.95% and a QB rating of 120.75. Not bad right?
Not bad at all, but it is just TWO games. One cannot base their entire evaluation of a player on their statistics in just two games. That would be illogical.
So how about we do just that?
If you’ve ever watched a game that JG10 was starting, whether preseason or regular, one of the first things you notice is that the kid can get that ball out fast. Coming out of college Jimmy was heralded as having one of the quickest releases since NFL QB legend, Dan Marino. Let’s take a closer look:
To make it in the NFL a quarterback must be able to make those “elite” or difficult throws pundits are always talking about. Not only that, but one must recognize when those throws are necessary. They’ve gotta be able to fit a ball in those tiny windows all while reading a defense and reacting. Those corner fades, and sideline darts are what separate the good from the great. So which is he?
The window for passes in the NFL is much much smaller than that of college as you can see in our first clip. Not only does Jimmy step up into the blitzer (huge cahones), he does so while unleashing a dart to Danny Amendola right in stride. This pass just slips by the defender’s fingers and goes for a first down. Not too shabby.
Awareness and Recognition
The least talked about characteristics when it comes to quarterbacks. That’s because they’re not something you can quantifiably measure. Sadly, real life is not Madden and you cannot see a quarterbacks “awareness rating” with the press of a button. But what we can do is watch film and hope to identify a players elite recognition, or lack thereof. These two seemingly undefinable traits might actually be the most important aspects of being a quarterback. Because in the game of football it doesn’t matter how far or fast you can throw a ball, if you don’t know where it should be going.
WHY DON’T TEAMS WANT JIMMY?
TWO STARTS. I REPEAT, TWO PROFESSIONAL STARTS. One against the Dolphins where he had to leave late in the 2nd quarter due to a shoulder injury. And another against the Cardinals that doesn’t wow you in the box score. So we’ll call that one and half games for the “Pride of Eastern Illinois”. That’s just not enough of a sample size to make a definitive decision on the true ability of any player. Any quarterback can put together a great two game stretch, and then fizzle out almost immediately. So we just don’t know. And that’s what it all boils down to when we discuss Jimmy – no one knows.
What we do know is that no one is perfect and that still holds true for our boy Jimmy. So let’s see what things might give scouts and evaluators some cause for pause.
The Deep Ball
The best play in all of football. The deep ball allows teams to stretch and open up the field. It may be the most fun play but it is also one of the most difficult. It can win games and it can almost most certainly lose them.This throw requires perfect timing, awareness, and a good arm to complete. Without these three things coming together for you, there is no deep ball. Let’s see if Jimmy’s is up to par:
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions.
Life is all about the decisions you make and consequently so is playing the quarterback position. The most important aspects, poise and decision making, can make or break a quarterback’s career. Does Jimmy have both?
It has been mentioned for years by past players, coordinators, and those close to the Patriots organization that the offense the team deploys is no joke. Many players have been cut because they couldn’t “grasp” the offense quick enough. Everyone on the offense from the wide receivers to the O-line have some of the toughest jobs in the league every single play. Why is this offense so tough? Responsibility. Wide receivers have the possibility to run a myriad of routes on one play based on the defense, quarter, etc. That goes for the linemen as well, who have to adjust on the fly as well. Those players fortunately only have to worry about themselves, the QB isn’t so lucky.
The quarterback has to know where every single player is going to be; on that play; in a split second. Add in the fact that these players have tons of options for their assignments every play depending on the defensive look before and after the play. Sounds fun, right? Luckily for the Patriots, they have Tom Brady who has a savant-like understanding of this ever growing offense. But what does this all say about Jimmy G? He may not have a Tom Brady-level mastery of the offense, but he sure as hell gets it. He sat behind and learned from one of the most meticulous, hardworking, and downright obsessive QBs of all time. He picked up good habits, and was taught how to carry himself as a professional. His time spent with the GOAT cannot go unnoticed.
And while we have clearly seen that Jimmy has his deficiencies, I believe these are very correctable issues that he can overcome if he’s allowed some time as a starter. While I can’t say with any confidence that Jimmy will be an elite quarterback in this league, I do believe he’s a damn good player and can be a starter for a team for a very long time. The positives are far too abundant to go unnoticed. And while it still would be a huge risk because we’re not exactly sure if he is injury-prone and we haven’t seen him play in enough games, I think teams who plan to draft a QB in the teens of the first round would be dumb to not do their due diligence on the price of the young signal caller. The biggest advantage that Jimmy has on these rookie QBs is that he actually does have NFL film out there, albeit not a lot. So if I’m the Cleveland Browns and I’m sitting there with the 12th pick in the draft and I plan on taking one of the top guys left at the position (e.g. Deshaun Watson), I should really take a step back and say “is this guy really better than Jimmy Garoppolo”. If not then, then why the hell would I draft him and not just trade the pick?
But hey, what do I know?