Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo electrified the 89th East–West Shrine Game crowd by leading the East Team all-stars on a 66-yard touchdown drive in the final 51 seconds of the first half. Named the 89th game’s Offensive MVP, he completed nine of14 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown. NFL scouts were impressed with his performance in the game and during practice.
Through his bowl game and NFL Combine performances Garoppolo made a big impression on some pretty knowledgeable football people. The New England Patriots selected Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The big question is can he make the jump from a smaller school to the NFL’s toughest position?
Garoppolo’s NFL Draft Tracker profile describes him as very athletic, with a good arm and quick release. He completed 66 percent of his passes last year for more than 5,000 total yards. Scouts like his lightning quick release and his ability to make decisions under fire. The Patriots are looking for a solid back up and understudy to the master, Tom Brady. Garoppolo will be competing with Ryan Mallett for the number two spot as he develops. Meanwhile, he’s all potential.
“To me accuracy is most important in passing, and this kid is amazing,” said Jerry Glanville, Garoppolo’s (East Team) head coach in the East-West Shrine Game. “To show you how much I trusted him: we had the ball on their one yard line, and everybody knows my tendency is to run it in from the one. But we turned him loose, and Garoppolo gunned a slant pass that could have made it though a car wash and not gotten wet. The scouts were paying attention to that,” said Glanville.
“He’s built like a linebacker; I don’t think you can hurt him,” Glanville continued. “When he first came into camp nobody would have chosen him to go as early in the draft as he did. But, it didn’t take long in practice before everybody was talking about him. He’s in a good position to learn and develop with the Patriots. I’m convinced that before he’s done he’ll be a starter in the NFL.”
If there is one thing everyone seems to agree on about Garoppolo it is his quick release, which helps him avoid sacks and beat the blitz. He’s a tough, accurate passer whose stock went up when he played in the 89th East-West Shrine Game.
“I would have been surprised by whoever picked me, to be honest. The excitement of it; it’s the draft – you don’t know which way any team is going to go. It’s a shock and excitement no matter who picks you,” Garoppolo said in an interviewed posted on the Patriots website.
“Just the opportunity to play for a successful organization is awesome. It’s crazy being able to go to Boston and learn from Tom Brady, and Coach Belichick. It’s a great opportunity for a guy like me, a young player. I still have a lot to learn and I know that and I’m excited about it.&rdquo
East Team Head Coach Glanville is proud the East–West Shrine Game gave Garoppolo the chance to impress the scouts, and excite the crowd. That’s one more reason East-West Shrine Game is the longest running college all-star game in the country.