Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett will have some extra company in New England Patriots quarterback meetings after the 2014 NFL draft.
The Patriots selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round (No. 62 overall) on Friday, and the rookie will battle Mallett for New England’s backup quarterback job in training camp.
Over the next two weeks, NESN.com will dissect each position to see how the Patriots’ depth chart stacks up now that the NFL draft and the undrafted free-agent signing period are over. We’ll break down roster locks, players on the bubble and practice-squad candidates. First up: the quarterbacks.
Roster locks: Brady, Garoppolo
On the bubble: Mallett
The most likely scenario is that all three quarterbacks make the 2014 roster — Brady as the starter, Mallett as the backup and Garoppolo as the successor. Mallett still could be traded, however, and if the rookie outperforms the three-year backup in training camp, the Patriots could use Mallett’s roster spot to keep another special teams contributor.
Mallett has had trouble evolving since being selected in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft, struggling with accuracy and touch in training camp and preseason games. Mallett knows the system, however, and he’s likely still the best candidate to back up Brady in 2014.
Garoppolo showed loads of potential at Eastern Illinois, but the Football Championship Subdivision level of competition is infinitely easier than the NFL. The Patriots also could look to change Garoppolo’s unusual but effective delivery, which would take time (I wouldn’t encourage changing Garoppolo’s motion, for whatever it’s worth. It’s a strange three-quarter slot flick, but he gets the ball out insanely quickly with strength).
The Patriots are in good shape at quarterback, for 2014 and beyond with Brady, and 2017 and beyond with Garoppolo. It wouldn’t be unheard of for the Patriots to keep three quarterbacks this season, but if Garoppolo comes out firing in training camp, the Patriots likely won’t be hesitant to cut ties with Mallett.