All Dallas Cowboys fans know that Jerry Jones isn’t too keen on drafting quarterbacks.
After all, he has only drafted three since 2001 and hasn’t done so since taking Stephen McGee in 2009 with the team’s third pick.
Tony Romo, who will be 34 by the start of next season, is recovering from back surgery that repaired a herniated disk. It is the second surgery he has had this year, although they are unrelated. Nevertheless, the Cowboys head into the 2014 draft with two quarterbacks over the age of 31.
The team doesn’t need to draft a quarterback early considering its defense came 397 yards shy of giving up the most total yards ever in a single season.
But in the middle rounds, the Cowboys should look at Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Yes, it is an FCS school. But some of the most successful quarterbacks in the league played at an FCS or non-AQ school.
Ben Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl wins, and he played at Miami (Ohio). Joe Flacco and the Ravens won the Super Bowl last year, and he played at the University of Delaware. Steve McNair went to Alcorn State so he could play quarterback, and we all remember just how close his Titans were to a Super Bowl victory in 2002.
Plus, the Cowboys have had some luck with field generals from Eastern Illinois. But that isn’t why they should give him a good look.
Garoppolo made 45 straight starts once he took over the starting job for the Panthers in 2010 as a freshman. Standing at 6’2” and 222 pounds, he looks well-built for the quarterback position. He has received an above-average grade in almost every trait on his ESPN draft profile (subscription required) and is rated the No. 7 QB in the draft.
The Illinois native led the Panthers to a 12-2 record during his senior campaign, losing to Towson in the FCS quarterfinals. Garoppolo completed 66 percent of his passes and threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns.
He threw 22 more touchdowns in just 28 more attempts this past season then he had during his junior season in 2012. He also improved in the interception department, throwing six fewer picks (9) in an extended season.
According to his draft profile, Garoppolo has some resemblance to Romo on the gridiron. He has excellent release quickness on throws, and his ball velocity is above the NFL average. He also is able to step up and side-step pressure from both edge and interior rushers, another area the gunslingers have in common.
We know Romo isn’t going to be giving up the reins anytime soon. The Cowboys have too much money invested in him, and they aren’t drafting high enough to get an NFL-ready quarterback. Plus, Garoppolo, like all prospects, has areas to improve on. He will benefit from a couple of years on the bench like some other young quarterbacks in the league.
The Packers did the same thing when Brett Favre was nearing the end of his run in Green Bay. They drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005, and he didn’t start a game until 2008. The Patriots drafted Ryan Mallet three years ago, and Tom Brady is still playing at an elite level today.
Orton is in the final year of his deal, and Romo may have a couple of solid years left in him. It is time for the ‘Boys to find their quarterback of the future, and Garoppolo might be the guy.