Eastern Illinois has their most exciting quarterback prospect since Tony Romo, but unlike Romo, the NFL Draft community is far more aware of Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo has been a starter since partway through his freshman year and gotten better every year. While his interception totals have remained largely the same, he has put up more yards and more touchdowns in each year of his career.
Garoppolo has a terrific skill set for the NFL as he has good size, one of the best arms in the country, has shown he can make any throw out there, and can use his mobility to extend plays. The big keys for Garoppolo beyond the fact he will need to compete well in the All-Star games after the season against better competition come down to consistency with his mechanics, which should help improve his overall accuracy. Garoppolo warrants a third day pick but he could end up pushing his way up draft boards and making himself a top 100 pick just because of his incredible tools and upside going forward.
Vitals & Build
Garoppolo is listed at 6’3” 222lbs with a pretty good build. He has decent strength and quick feet. Garoppolo is athletic and agile with solid top end speed. He could still end up adding more weight, but he really does not look like he needs to add too much. Physically, he looks about ready to go.
Garoppolo’s arm strength is impressive and he is able to drive the ball down the field. There are no limitations as far as what offense he can play in as a result.
More impressive than his raw strength is how much zip he is able to put on the football. Garoppolo is able to put a ton of speed on passes without a ton of effort, but can dial it up even more when he needs to and can really put passes into tight windows.
Accuracy & Touch
Garoppolo’s accuracy is usually pretty good as long as he is able to use good mechanics. He can leave something to be desired on ball placement at times and makes receivers make some more acrobatic catches than is needed in certain situations. Garoppolo can make some impressive throws down the field but his accuracy tends to be inconsistent the deeper he throws the football.
Garoppolo has shown the ability to make just about any throw on the field with impressive accuracy, but the issue is improving the consistency that he is able to hit those passes. Short, long or in regards to ball placement, Garoppolo can do it all, but he can also miss.
Typically, when Garoppolo misses, he tends to miss high and overthrows the target as opposed to underthrowing passes. Typically, that is a good thing, especially going down the field as underthrown deep passes tend to be at risk to be intercepted while overthrown passes tend to hit the ground or go out of bounds.
Garoppolo has demonstrated he can throw with touch. He can put air under the ball but he does it while still putting a lot of zip on the ball. Rather than throwing huge arcing passes, he tends to throw passes that are intended to just get over the layers of the defense. It is more effective in that it gets to the target faster, but it has a smaller room for error as it is does not allow his receivers to run under many passes. When they are right, they are basically unstoppable and look unbelievably impressive. The defense has an incredibly difficult time stopping them as they have little time to adjust.
Mechanics & Footwork
This is where Garoppolo runs into most of his problems. When he is right, has time, and makes the effort to utilize them properly, he can be downright deadly, but he lets them fall by the way side far too often.
Garoppolo can work from an overhand delivery that is compact and comes out quickly as well as sliding down to a ¾ and almost side arm delivery at times. There is not much of a difference in performance but obviously, his overhand delivery is the best way to go.
The biggest key for Garoppolo is with his feet. He can set up quickly and does not take a huge step forward when throwing the football. Garoppolo has shown he can be extremely quick and jump into having his feet in position to make throws.
The problem is that Garoppolo will not consistently use his footwork and will make mistakes due to being pressured as well as just occasionally being lazy. There are situations when Garoppolo will throw off of his wrong foot for no apparent reason and seems to feel he has to in order to get the ball out as quickly as he wanted in that exact moment.
When under pressure, Garoppolo will use poor footwork and make throws while bracing himself for impact or bailing out to avoid the hit. When that happens, his throws tend to be far less accurate and the ball does not come out cleanly. He can throw it so hard the speed is not impacted much, but the ball will wobble to the intended target. If Garoppolo can get consistent with his mechanics and eliminate the bad habits he has, he can be deadly effective.
This is also an area that is inconsistent. There are times when Garoppolo does a great job of feeling the pressure, will step up or bail out as needed and use his legs to extend or make a play.
He can also sense pressure and end up using poor mechanics and bailing or bracing for impact from pressure that is incoming from up the middle or from the side. There are also examples of Garoppolo trying to escape a pass rush and running himself right into a sack.
Occasionally, Garoppolo appears to sense pressure that is not there and will rush his mechanics unnecessarily or just not employ them at all.
Decision Making & Anticipation
For the most part, Garoppolo has a good sense of where the play is going and how best to make it work effectively. He can make throws as his receivers come out of cuts, especially when they are running flags and posts. Garoppolo has shown he can put the ball in the right spot and either help the receiver catch the ball and run effectively or put it in a spot that only his guy can make a play on it.
Occasionally, Garoppolo will force throws into spots that make little or no sense and there is either no one there or only a defender there. Some of this could be due to the fact that there is a miscommunication and a missed or badly run route, but Garoppolo throws the ball there anyway. These do not happen often but they do leave onlookers scratching their heads. Mostly, Garoppolo does a good job of finding the right target and hitting them and the Eastern Illinois offense gives him a ton of targets he can find and target with the football.
Garoppolo is extremely mobile and has quick feet and decent agility and top end speed. He uses it to extend plays and try to throw the ball for the most part and while he is not afraid to run with the ball, looks to be extremely protective of himself and slide at the first sign of danger.
Garoppolo’s effectiveness is that because he is looking to find the space to throw the ball, he forces the defense to play honest and with his arm strength, he can open up lanes for himself to pick up yardage. He is absolutely a pass first quarterback, which is far more preferable in the NFL.
Garoppolo might be most effectively utilized in a vertical type offense because he can make so many throws, but he can really play in any scheme. His talents are such that he can do pretty much anything and with his experience at Eastern Illinois, he will likely need to take time to be groomed as he also adjusts to the level of competition.
The best situation for Garoppolo is going to a team with stability where he can be developed as a backup. He absolutely has the potential to be a starter and franchise quarterback in the NFL, but needs to be put with the right coaching staff to help him transition to the NFL as well as eliminate bad habits.
Garoppolo’s game is somewhat similar to that of Luke McCown, now of the Atlanta Falcons. When McCown entered the NFL, he was a fourth round pick to the Cleveland Browns. He was brought in as a third string quarterback with big time tools physically, but came out of Louisiana Tech and needed a lot of coaching. While McCown has never quite reached his full potential, he has been able to make it in the NFL for a decade. Like McCown, Garoppolo has tremendous tools and upside, but he could also have a long career as a great backup coming from a smaller school, but has the potential to be a big time quarterback.
Jimmy Garoppolo has absolutely incredible physical ability and he certainly looks the part. When he has had opportunities against Division-I opponents, he has looked impressive, but there will still be questions about the level of competition going into the draft process. He will have a chance to answer some of those depending on which All-Star game(s) he is invited and if he can look impressive against talent going into the NFL, it could have a dramatic impact on his stock. Still, Garoppolo needs to improve his consistency when it comes to his mechanics which should help improve some consistency with his accuracy and he needs to keep working about his feel for within the pocket. Nevertheless, Garoppolo’s upside is immense and he warrants a day three pick, but it would hardly be surprising if he ends up being a top 100 pick when all is said and done.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com