Person of Interest: Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo


Jimmy Garoppolo will fill in for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his suspension. (Elise Amendola/AP)

The New England Patriots were thrown a bit of a curveball on Monday.

According to multiple reports, a United States appeals court ruled that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve his initial four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.

Assuming this holds, which obviously remains completely up in the air at this point, the Patriots will be forced to start a third-year quarterback who has never started an NFL game.

Here’s everything you need to know about Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo:

Name: Jimmy Garoppolo (pronounced “guh-ROPP-uh-low”)
Age: 24
Height: Six-foot-two | Weight 225 lb.
Drafted: Second Round (No. 62 overall) of 2014 NFL Draft
College: Eastern Illinois

In the second round of the 2014 draft, the Patriots made a surprise pick when they passed up on addressing an immediate need in order to draft a backup quarterback.

The Patriots had previously spent mid-round picks on developmental quarterbacks who never amounted to much in Ryan Mallett and Kevin O’Connell. but it was clear that Patriots czar Bill Belichick was high on Garoppolo when the team made him the franchise’s highest-drafted quarterback since Drew Bledsoe.

Garoppolo, who was the Eastern Illinois starter from 2010 through 2013, got on the radar of NFL scouts during his senior season in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

Playing in an up-tempo, no-huddle spread system that had a heavy reliance on quick throws out of the shotgun formation, Garoppolo passed for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns with a 66 per cent completion percentage en route to winning the Walter Payton Award, the FCS’s version of the Heisman Trophy.

“Garoppolo could excite quarterback coaches with his quick delivery, mental make-up and work habits, yet he still needs to prove he can fit the ball into tight windows and do more than carve up soft shells the way he regularly did on his way to a record-breaking performance in college,” draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki wrote prior to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Throughout his college years (45 games), Garoppolo passed for 13,156 yards and 118 touchdowns while breaking school records for career passing yards and touchdowns, and touchdowns in a season which were previously held by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Entering the draft, Garoppolo was pegged by most draftniks as a possible second- or third-round pick, but his body of work impressed Sportsnet’s Justin Dunk, who projected him as a future Pro Bowl quarterback before the 2014 NFL Draft.

Garoppolo opened up training camp in his rookie season as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart and quickly impressed the Patriots’ brass in pre-season action, going 46-of-79 (58.2 per cent) while throwing for 618 yards and five touchdowns with a 99.0 quarterback rating.

He made his regular-season debut in garbage time of a blowout Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, registering his first career touchdown pass—a 13-yard strike to tight end Rob Gronkowski (0:53 in the video below) and he finished the game 6-of-7 for 70 yards with a passer rating of 147.9.

Overall, Garoppolo appeared in six regular-season games in 2014, and impressed many in the organization by emulating quarterback Russell Wilson in advance of the Patriots playing the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

In his sophomore season, he attempted just five regular-season passes. Now he could very well play a significant role if the Patriots want to make another deep run in 2016.

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