Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Brady has no plans of hanging up his cleats anytime soon, but Ryan Mallett's future with the New England Patriots is less clear. If he were to be traded or leave in free agency after the 2014 season, the Patriots need a viable backup.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has some skills that the Patriots desire. His quick release, patience in the pocket and ability to extend the play should endear him to NFL coaches.
At least one former backup quarterback who hailed from Eastern Illinois—now Dallas Cowboys starter Tony Romo—has worked out pretty well in the NFL.
Eric Galko from OptimumScouting.com had a firsthand look at Garoppolo at the Shrine Game this week:
While each quarterback utilized their best skill set today to have a “solid” day, Jimmy Garoppolo had the best day in my eyes. His quick release was on display, both on quick step short route and when asked to sling it deep. He utilized a great pump and go move that forced Pierre Desir to bite, allowing for big separation for Matt Hazel on a long throw. While his placement wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t an issue and likely stemmed from QB-WR chemistry not fully formed.
If the Patriots want to add a quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft, Garoppolo and Georgia's Aaron Murray are two of the better options.