Patriots

With Future In Mind, Patriots Draft QB Jimmy Garoppolo

By Matthew Geagan, CBSBoston Sports
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Former Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 21, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Former Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 21, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady has a few good years left in the tank, but the New England Patriots are hoping they’ve found their quarterback of the future when Brady’s playing days are over.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t come at the expense of other players that could have helped the team in 2014.

The Patriots had areas of need on the current roster when their second round selection came up on Friday night, but they selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick in the NFL Draft.

It’s the highest the team has drafted a quarterback since Drew Bledsoe was drafted first overall in 1993.

“I think you’re better off being early than late at that position,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Friday evening, with the distant future on his mind.

The 6-2 Garoppolo put up big numbers in 2013, throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns, and won the Walter Payton Award for the best player in FCS. He finished his career with 13,156 yards passing and 118 touchdowns, and scouts say he is a very smart quarterback with a quick release. But they also say he needs to improve his decision making, something he’ll no doubt learn from playing behind Brady.

It’s an interesting selection for New England, seeing how they have other areas of need for 2014 and Garoppolo won’t see the field unless (gasp) something happens to Brady, who is signed through 2017. They could have used a tight end, and C.J. Fiedorowicz went three picks later to the Houston Texans. They also still have needs at running back and on the offensive line, and on the defensive side at safety and linebacker.

The pick will probably meet even more criticism if the Patriots don’t deal current backup Ryan Mallett — which ESPN’s Adam Schefter has said they won’t do — as they essentially drafted a third string quarterback in the second round. But Mallett is a free agent after 2014, and he was New England’s third stringer after being drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft, so Garoppolo could follow a similar path.

It’s tough to swallow the Patriots taking a player who hopefully won’t be playing anytime soon so early, but Bill Belichick is always thinking ahead, and this was a pick with the future in mind.

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