Scouting Report: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

Scouting Report: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois

Another Eastern Illinois QB
By: Pete Davidson : April 17, 2014 8:24pm

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Like a lot of quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class, Jimmy Garoppolo has his backers and his detractors. Evaluators like us are sold on his strengths, while others are concerned with his question marks, such as his level of competition, pocket presence, lack of high-end athleticism or prototypical size. We’ve watched all the film, and while we see where the critics are coming from, I just can’t say that it’s a place we plan on spending any time. What Garoppolo has is a very particular set of skills that long time Rotobahn readers know we look for. Those skills being eye talent, decisiveness and a quick release.

To us, the most legitimate knock on Garoppolo is that he hasn’t faced the top level competition that most of his peers have faced. That’s no small detail. After all, even quarterbacks from the NCAA’s best conferences will have their share of culture shock at the next level. It’s fair to say that Garoppolo will have that same share and potentially more. We feel he can make the adjustments. He’s got a very strong reputation for learning and digesting a playbook.

Garoppolo confirmed that he’d been working with several quarterback coaches since the end of the season. “I have been out in Los Angeles training at the API out there. And you know I’ve had a couple of different quarterback coaches helping me…both just working on my footwork, working on the release and everything, really just fine tuning everything getting ready for this.”

We caught up with one of Jimmy’s coaches, Jeff Christensen, and he said he was impressed with what the young passer has been able to clean up in such a short period. He said the footwork was coming along nicely. In fact, he thought Garoppolo’s biggest challenge would be the rough and tumble of the NFL versus the reads or the footwork.

Christensen, was once a highly regarded passer out of Eastern Illinois himself. As Jeff pointed out to me, he was the first quarterback taken after Dan Marino in 1983. Of course, there was a 110 pick gap between the two. Christensen was a fifth round selection but he’s not the only Eastern Illinois quarterback with NFL credentials. Both Tony Romo and Saints HC Sean Payton are former Panthers.

When asked about what parts of his game he is working on Garoppolo said “pretty much everything. Like I said, a quarterback is never done learning. No part of my game is perfect by any means.”  It may not be perfect, but we think his release is pretty darn good.

Let’s take a look at Jimmy’s Combine data.

  • Height - 6’2”
  • Weight - 226
  • Hands - 9 1/4”
  • 40 - 4.97
  • Vertical Jump - 30.5”
  • Broad Jump - 110”
  • 3-Cone Drill - 7.04 (3rd)
  • 20 YD Shuttle - 4.26

He had mixed results for sure, but there were no big red flags and his 3-Cone time was encouraging.  On film, Garoppolo looks faster than his 4.97 forty time suggests.

Things we like about Garoppolo.

  • Quick release - We love the way Jimmy gets the ball out. Once he makes up his mind, the ball is gone. He’s quick and efficient with a nice compact delivery.
  • Arm - His arm is NFL caliber, though we would not say he has a big arm. Garoppolo makes all the throws you need him to make and has good timing on the deep ball.
  • Eyes - We love the way Garoppolo gets through his reads and sees the field. This, combined with his release are the things that have us thinking big thoughts for the long term if he goes to a good offensive system.
  • Accuracy - As I said, he uses a nice compact delivery and that leads to consistency and accuracy, which you see on his game film.
  • Feet - While his footwork and technique are still works in progress, Garoppolo has better feet than he gets credit for. He moves well and has some suddenness and quickness, which shows up on his 3-Cone time.
  • Leadership and intensity - He’s a team leader and you can see it when you watch him play, especially in the big spot. He is in total command of his huddle and his offense.
  • Production - His career numbers are great, but look at what Jimmy did in 2013.  Talk about finishing on a high note.

Let’s take a look at some of Garoppolo’s film. This first clip is against Eastern Kentucky.

Here he is against Towson in his final college game.

I think you can see most of Garoppolo’s positive traits I mentioned if you work though all of his tape. He’s another player we think can win on his strengths while working on his weaknesses.

One of the most common problems we’ve heard with Garoppolo is that he overreacts to pressure or that he reacts to pressure that is not even there, and freezes at times under duress. While there is evidence of some of this on tape, we see the situation a bit differently. First of all, what is on the other end of the spectrum from a quarterback who overreacts to pressure? The quarterback who holds the ball too long! Personally, I’d rather deal with slowing a guy like Garropolo down a tick or two versus trying to speed-up a guy like Kevin Kolb or Mark Sanchez. I’d be willing to bet that your average NFL OC would agree with me. Of course you want perfect reactions to all forms of pressure, but be careful reading too much into these things on film.

It’s a lot easier to see a lot of these things after the fact on video than it is to see them as they happen from a chaotic pocket. Pocket presence is a skill that sets in over time. We suspect that Garoppolo will learn to milk a little more out of certain plays as he matures, and we don’t see his current level of awareness as a major problem if he does need to play right away.  The bigger issue for Garoppolo in terms of challenges he will face in the NFL, is the switch to the pro style offense. He’ll be going through the the same kind of transition that Derek Carr will, and we think both of them can handle the switch if given time.

Garoppolo is a player we are willing to bet on. We think he can do very well in the right offense. He has some things to learn like most young passers, but his smarts and work ethic are both at the required levels ... and then some. We think he’ll make the improvements and have a very solid career.

I look forward to updating his value after the draft, but it’s safe to say that we like his chances as a player.


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