The Ryan Mallett era is over before it ever began.
The New England Patriots selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the No. 62 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft on Friday night, and Tom Brady has a new “young grasshopper” to coach up. The Patriots could move on from current backup quarterback Ryan Mallett before the draft is over.
Garoppolo was extremely productive at Eastern Illinois, throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns with nine interceptions as a senior. He completed 66 percent of his passes in 2013 and 62.8 percent during his four-year career.
The 6-foot-2, 226-pound signal-caller ran a 4.94-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and also posted a 4.26-second short shuttle and 7.04-second three-cone drill.
The selection proves the Patriots are never content to plan for the short term, and that despite coach Bill Belichick being 62 years old (or young), he’s still planning for the future. Garoppolo wasn’t expected to drop to the No. 62 overall pick, so it’s possible Belichick saw value that he couldn’t pass up there.
The Patriots worked out many of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, including Garoppolo. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was asked last week if the Patriots were planning to take Brady’s successor, and his answer was anything but definitive.
The Patriots selected Mallett in the third round of the 2011 draft, and he never lived up to the promise that he flashed during his college career at Arkansas. Mallett struggled during training camp and preseason for the Patriots throughout his three years with the team.
Brady will be 37 years old next season, and Garoppolo will be signed to a four-year contract as a second-round pick. The Patriots have learned from teams like the Green Bay Packers that it’s never too early to start planning for a quarterback’s decline. Brady’s stats were down in 2013, though his offensive weapons and line were lacking.
Patriots fans wanted the team to draft a tight end or a blocker for Brady, but there’s no position more important than quarterback, and Belichick realizes that. Get ready for the Garoppolo backup era, Patriots fans.