NEW YORK — Jimmy Garoppolo brought everyone he knew to Radio City Music Hall for the 2014 NFL draft — seriously.
Garoppolo arrived at his post-draft news conference Friday night with his mother and father; his brothers Tommy, Mikey and Billy; and his friends from Eastern Illinois, John, Adam, Pete, Nico and Jerome. It was a long two-night and 62-pick wait for Garoppolo before the Patriots made him their second-round draft choice, but at least he had company.
Now, Garoppolo will travel to New England, where he’ll have to wait even longer by serving as Tom Brady’s backup quarterback — or the third-stringer if the team keeps Ryan Mallett for the 2014 season. But Garoppolo is prepared to be a backup for the meantime.
“I’m going to go in there, and you have to make yourself better first,” Garoppolo said about preparing to be a starter. “And by making yourself better and better each day, you make the team better.”
Garoppolo, a two-star prospect, had just three offers from Football Championship Subdivision schools after being a quarterback for just two years in high school, but he proved he has the tools and smarts while playing for Tony Romo’s alma mater to seamlessly fit into the Patriots’ offense.
“It’s a fun offense,” Garoppolo said. “A lot of different variables to it. It’s an offense that fits me. It’s a picture-perfect fit for me.”
Garoppolo received the call from New England head coach Bill Belichick, who asked the signal-caller if he wanted to be a Patriot.
“Obviously I was ecstatic,” Garoppolo said.
Garoppolo was one of many quarterbacks to visit the Patriots at Gillette Stadium over the last couple months. He was pleased with how his trip to Foxboro went, but he decided to go into the draft without any expectations about being selected by the Patriots.
“It went really well. It’s an unbelievable facility they have there,” Garoppolo said. “I wanted to sit back and let the chips fall as they may. If you think too much about it, you get nervous.”
Garoppolo received some great advice from a Patriots legend moments after he was selected into the organization. Willie McGinest announced the pick and greeted Garoppolo on stage.
“He told me that the Patriots are a blue-collar organization and that I have to get to work immediately,” Garoppolo said.
Garoppolo will get to work, but the Patriots likely hope he won’t have to play in a meaningful game for years.