Garoppolo is flying up the draft

Garoppolo is flying up the draft, with people even saying first round prospect. Found a couple articles on him, especially on Cincinnati fan-sites that were interesting.

For four seasons on the Baylor coaching staff, Dino Babers watched quarterback Robert Griffin III develop into a passer worthy of winning the 2011 Heisman Trophy.

For the last two years, the Eastern Illinois coach benefited from Jimmy Garoppolo blossoming into the state's best NFL-caliber quarterback not named Cutler.

"I've been around RGIII but Jimmy has the fastest release I've ever seen,'' Babers said.
David Haugh

The pride of Rolling Meadows will bring his rare talent home to the Chicago area Saturday when Garoppolo leads Eastern (3-0), ranked eighth in the latest Football Championship Subdivision poll, against Northern Illinois at Huskie Stadium. Fans will see a 6-foot-3, 222-pound quarterback with textbook mechanics and record-book statistics, a legitimate NFL prospect coming off two straight FCS national player of the week awards.

In three games, Garoppolo has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,281 yards and 14 touchdowns with only one interception. The four-year starter recently passed Sean Payton to become Eastern's all-time leader in completions and, after seven touchdown passes against Illinois State, stands within six of Tony Romo's career record of 85.

"It's an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys,'' Garoppolo said.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer didn't mention names when he called Garoppolo "one of the best quarterbacks I've ever seen'' after noticing No. 10 on film preparing for San Diego State, Eastern's season-opening opponent. But consider the quarterbacks Meyer coached at Utah, Florida and Ohio State: Alex Smith, the NFL's No. 1 overall pick in 2005; 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow; and 2013 Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller.

"When my teammates first told me what he said I didn't believe them so they had to pull up the Twitter account and show me,'' Garoppolo said. "It meant a lot because he obviously knows what good quarterbacks are like and what it takes.''

The long process of becoming one began for Garoppolo one summer day during a 7-on-7 drill before his junior year at Rolling Meadows. A running back growing up who didn't play football until sixth grade because of his mother's concerns, Garoppolo changed positions after meeting former NFL quarterback Jeff Christensen, who runs Throw It Deep quarterback and wide receiver training academy in Lombard. The two meticulously rebuilt Garoppolo's delivery by focusing on his shoulder and fingers more than his arm.

"I used to throw it like a baseball player,'' Garoppolo said. "He also fixed my feet.''

Quietly, Garoppolo progressed step by step into an accurate passer — but too quietly. No FBS schools offered scholarships. When Christensen learned longtime Eastern assistant Roy Wittke was recruiting another quarterback in the area, he challenged him.

"I said, 'Do me one favor. Watch the first half of your game then drive to the Rolling Meadows game 30 minutes away and watch Jimmy Garoppolo. And if you think your kid can carry Jimmy's jock, let me know,' '' Christensen recalled. "He came. And there was no comparison.''

Four years after turning down Illinois State and Montana State for Eastern and now-retired coach Bob Spoo, Garoppolo entered his senior season as the seventh-highest-rated NFL quarterback prospect among seniors, according to's Gil Brandt. All 32 NFL teams have found the way to Charleston, Ill. Babers says they marvel at Garoppolo's precision, which Christensen recalled reached epic proportions by the end of July.

"I'd say, 'OK, throw this 16-yard dig route and put it an inch above his eyebrows and he would do it seven times in a row,'' Christensen said. "I told him, 'Jimmy, you're an NFL starting quarterback, son. Get that in your mind right now. So when this national media thing happens, you're not shocked. Mentally prepare yourself. Stay the great kid you are. Expect nothing, appreciate everything.' ''

Growing up with three brothers kept Garoppolo grounded enough to handle the hype suddenly surrounding the quarterback who never envisioned any when taking over an 0-4 team as a true freshman. The Walter Payton Award given the top FCS player looks within Garoppolo's grasp. Christensen compares his footwork to Aaron Rodgers' and his poise to Tom Brady's. He is the Jimmy Football of the mid-majors, minus the bravado.

"I don't have problems like Johnny Manziel — there are a lot less students here than Texas A&M,'' Garoppolo said, chuckling. "There was no bragging in my house. Acting that way wasn't right. Nobody wants to be around anybody who's arrogant.''

In the coming months as his football celebrity expands, the number of people who want to be around Garoppolo will increase significantly. His life will change. Those closest to him insist he won't.

"You can tell he wasn't raised in a roller-coaster family,'' Babers said. "If you look up humility in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Jimmy Garoppolo.''

Hard to imagine an image representing a college football program any better.

another article from

EIU QB: Best Player You’ve Never Heard Of

Through four games in 2013, Jimmy Garoppolo is projected to finish his senior season with an astounding 5,193 passing yards and 60 touchdowns.

Who, you’re probably asking?

Garoppolo is the starting quarterback at FCS Eastern Illinois. He’s making a very strong case for the 2013 Walter Payton Award, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Barring injury, he’ll shatter almost all of the school passing marks set by EIU’s two most famous football alums, Sean Payton and Tony Romo, as well as Ohio Valley Conference marks for passing and total yards. And at 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds, he has the physical makeup to be worthy of an NFL draft pick next spring.Come and meet the best college quarterback you’ve never heard of.

The 1,731 yards and 20 TDs (against just three INTs) that Garoppolo has thrown for carries all the more weight in that he’s done it against fierce competition.

Two of the Panthers’ four games thus far have come against better-than-average FBS opponents: Defending Mountain West champion San Diego State and last year’s BCS darling, Northern Illinois. Against the Aztecs, Garoppolo exercised a shocking 40-19 rout, completing 31-of-46 passes for 361 yards and three TDs. This past Saturday, the Huskies were well aware of Garoppolo’s skills, yet he still burned them for 450 yards and six TDs in a 43-39 nail-biting loss.

"He does make mistakes, but they are really minute ones," EIU head coach Dino Babers said after Garoppolo set a school record with seven TD passes – including six in the first half – in a 57-24 win over FCS No. 16 Illinois State on September 14th. "Last Saturday, he was as hot as any quarterback I’ve seen, and I’ve watched Robert Griffin III from up close.

"Indeed, Babers arrived at Eastern Illinois following the 2011 regular season after four years on Art Briles’ staff at Baylor. He brought with him the same high-powered offense that transformed RGIII into a Heisman Trophy winner and the long-moribund Bears into a Big 12 force to be reckoned with.Last year, Garoppolo took to Babers’ attack quite nicely, throwing for an OVC-record 3,823 yards and 31 TDs.

This season has been even better."A big thing is getting reps at all the plays because there are so many," Garoppolo said. "It’s just one of those things where it takes time to get used to the plays and everyone around you."

Not only is Garoppolo on pace for by far the most passing yards and touchdowns of his career, he’s also projected to throw fewer than double-digit picks in a season for the first time.

"I watched all my interceptions from the season before during the offseason," he said. "It’s about making smart decisions. Repping the play consistently over and over, you learn where the ball goes."

The same could be said about Garoppolo’s growth as a whole at the quarterback. He wasn’t a full-time starter at the position until his junior year at Rolling Meadows High School in suburban Chicago, having played running back and linebacker for the entirety of his football life up to that point.

"I could always throw the ball well because I was a baseball player," Garoppolo said. "My freshman year, our QB got hurt and they put me in there. I only lasted two games after breaking a finger on my throwing hand. My junior year, we needed a quarterback and the coaches said, ‘Hey, you played it freshman year, play it again.’ "He threw for a modest 3,960 yards and 34 TDs over the next two seasons while adding 1,115 yards and 14 TDs on the ground.

It was enough to draw attention from college recruiters, including those from the program he eventually decided on.The legacy that both Sean Payton and Tony Romo (below) had left at EIU impressed Garoppolo, yet that wasn’t what truly brought him to Charleston, IL.

"When [former offensive coordinator Roy] Wittke started recruiting me, he never beat around the bush and just told me the straight truth," Garoppolo said. "When he told me they were going to offer me, they offered me. Before that, when they were recruiting other QBs, he told me who they were. And there was a family atmosphere when (former head coach Bob) Spoo was here.

It’s only grown under Coach Babers."As have Garoppolo’s NFL prospects, which he admitted to "always [having] in the back of his head." NFL draft guru Gil Brandt rated Garoppolo the 48th best senior in the country at any position or level before the season started – one spot behind heralded San Jose State QB David Fales and ahead of household names like Fresno State QB Derek Carr – and the attention has only grown in recent weeks.

ESPN analyst and quarterback guru George Whitfield mentioned Garoppolo as an FCS player to watch on the September 21st edition of "College GameDay." Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer called him "one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen" after watching tape of the San Diego State game (the Buckeyes played the Aztecs the week after the Panthers did).

But*Garoppolo’s too focused on and having too fun with this season to worry about the draft right now. He’s excited about the national title prospects of the Panthers, who are ranked eighth in the Sports Networks’ FCS Top 10, chasing a second straight OVC title and hope to make a deep run in the playoffs.

All the while, he takes heart in how Romo, Joe Flacco and other quarterbacks that share his small-school background have made it in the NFL. But he doesn’t use it as an excuse to rest on his laurels just because he’s put up big stats this year.

"All these guys, it’s not like they were handed an NFL contract or anything like that," Garoppolo said. "If you put in the work, good things will work out for you."His mind-boggling stats through the first four games of this season suggest that Garoppolo has put in the work and then some. And it might not be long until many more people know who he is.

Meet Jimmy Garoppolo: How High Could the Small School Quarterback Go On Draft Day?

Written by Eric Galko on 17 October 2013.
In-season evaluations of quarterbacks will consistently fluctuate among evaluators in the league and in the media. But while play on the field shifts from positive to negative for many prospects on a weekly basis, cooler heads prevail after the season as scouts decide on what the body of work tells about a prospect.

In Jimmy Garoppolo’s case, he’s been out of the spotlight for much of this year despite putting up gaudy numbers and showcasing his NFL skill set. And while it may take post-season events and all-star game to accurately compare him to the top FBS talents, the question has already become one of discussion in the NFL draft community: Just how high could Garoppolo go?

After talking to Garoppolo and getting a better feel for his role in the offense, it’s clear that football IQ is certainly a strength of his. With audible autonomy and pass protection responsibilities at the line of scrimmage, his coach calls it giving Garoppolo the "keys to the Cadillac". With a premium placed on making pre-snap reads and changes by the offense, Garoppolo already has proved he can handle more responbility at the line than many top quarterbacks in the country.

As a passer, Garoppolo possesses arguably the quickest release of any top quarterback in the country. Coming out at his earhole level, he’s able to generate ample velocity on 20 yard or less routes. A calm upper body thrower, he’s able to adjust his shoulders well and come over the top on his throws enough to prevent his passes from rising (and potentially) sailing as they work downfield.

With a developed subtle mechanics, such as pump fakes and read option follow throughs, Garoppolo already has some of the techniques that he would have eventually been taught to him in the pros incorporated in his game. Also, he’s one of the more impressive red zone passers in the country, able to place the ball on deep fades with impressive placement as well as utilizing his quick release to react to cornerback leverage pre and post snap.

He does seem to have issues in remaining fluid as he evades pressure in the backfield, and much of that may stem from still developing footwork and repositioning in non-read option plays. Also, he seems to rush his reads and throws at times, over-anticipating pressure and not making ideal decisions downfield. Part of that may stem from an over-confidence in his own arm strength.

As usual, let’s take a look at a handful of plays were Garoppolo showcases his pluses (and minuses) as an NFL paser.

Play #1 – Quick Release Off Read-Option, Ball Placement In Mid-Field
While this first play isn’t a tremendous display of his skill set, it does show a few areas where NFL teams will see promise in his ability to have some NFL concepts already ingrained in his game. After pre-snap reading (and likely hot-routing) his receiver to utilize the cornerbacks deep and outside leverage to work the middle of the field, he delivers a long-strided zone read to force the strong safety to stand still and leave an opening behind him. Also, notice, how he chops his feet quickly, resets his feet to generate velocity from his lower half, and utilizes his quick release to throw right after the receiver makes his break. A textbook play from fundamentals to throw in a play design that should be incorporated more and more in NFL offenses.

Play #2/3 – Reset Feet, Touch in Red-Zone Fade
On these two throws, Garoppolo finishes drives with back corner throws in the red zone. Again, adding to his red zone efficiency and placement, Garoppolo shows the versatility as a passer to put pressure on the cornerbacks to not bite on either the slant or fade route.
In the first play, you’ll see that Garoppolo (who gets great protection), sets his feet and delivers a perfect pump fake to draw the safety and, more importantly, the cornerback to over-anticipate the inside route, leaving the fade to the corner with plenty of room. He quickly delivers it only where his receiver can get it, and finishes the play with a touchdown.

While this next play doesn’t show off his pump fake, it required a more on-point and on-time throw to finish the touchdown. As soon as the slot receiver begins to belly out on his wheel route, Garoppolo places the ball perfectly at the back pylon, giving the cornerback no chance to react to the receiver and the quarterback, and giving his receiver another chance to be the only one to make a play on the ball.

Play #4 – Rushed Read, Decision Making Vertically
It wasn’t a perfect game for Garoppolo and the rest of the Eastern Illinois offense, as they eventually blew a lead to miss on the upset of the FBS Northern Illinois team. This play shows a time where Garoppolo simply rushed a throw and mis-read the nickel corernback’s leverage. With plenty of time in the pocket but vertical routes covered, his receiver (wisely) cut off his route to come back and take advantage of plenty of space in the middle of the field. However, Garoppolo unnecessarily tries to force the ball deep.

Garoppolo’s skill set isn’t without issues, and isn’t a fit for every NFL offense. Lacking the vertical arm strength for some downfield passing teams in the NFL (such as what the Cleveland Browns are aiming to be), Garoppolo may be best fit in a more West Coast -concept focused offense, allowing his quick release, athleticism as a runner, and ample velocity on shorter routes.

It may be an uphill battle for Garoppolo to pass the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Hundley, and Marcus Mariota, along with our top senior Zach Mettenberger. But after those four, Garoppolo may have the opportunity (for offenses that fit his skill set especially) to win teams over and make him a trendy early second round, Andy Dalton-esque selection.

At the mid-season point, Garoppolo has earned the right to be discussed among the top senior quarterbacks in the country. His production and scouting report puts him around the Top 100 projected picks. But he has a long ways to go on the field, after the season, and behind closed doors with NFL teams before he can start to win teams over as their planned future quarterback.

But for quarterback who may draw Ryan Tannehill comparisons with his athleticism, quick release, and football IQ, don’t be surprised if Garoppolo makes a similar meteoric rise leading up to the draft.

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