BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots surprised many with their second round selection of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at the NFL Draft, with other needs on the roster other than a third-string quarterback.

ESPNBoston’s Mike Reiss knew the Pats would draft a quarterback at some point, but was a little shocked to see the Eastern Illinois quarterback’s name announced in the second round.

“It’s a mild surprise to me that they (did it that early); it’s fascinating on a lot of levels,” Reiss said on Sunday night’s edition of Sports Final on WBZ-TV.

Garoppolo had a great career at Eastern Illinois, finishing his career with 13,156 yards passing and 118 touchdowns. He put up monster numbers in 2013, throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns and won the Walter Payton Award for the best player in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision).

“Bill Belichick talks about what they look for in a quarterback and the characteristics. With Tom Brady it’s anticipation, accuracy and decision-making. I think he checks off each box in those categories (for Garoppolo),” he said. “But the question is ‘can he grow?

“It’s sort of interesting: you take a guy second-round, 62nd overall, and you hope he doesn’t play for you over the next four years,” said Reiss. “That’s what a lot of people are having a tough time with. Why didn’t they draft a player who can help them win right now in the second round? I get that, but here’s the thing: there is no position more important than quarterback. If your quarterback goes down and you don’t have a guy who is Brady to run the show you really put your whole team at risk. That’s what this whole pick is about.”

Reiss said the rumored Ryan Mallett trade to Houston never came close to happening, and says Mallett will likely be a Patriots in 2014.

“This reminds me a lot of 2011 when they drafted Mallett — just 12 spots after they picked Garoppolo this year. They made Mallett the number-three that year and Brian Hoyer was the number-two. That next year Mallett bumped up, and I think that’s probably how it’s going to look for the Patriots this year into next year,” he said.

Another surprising part of New England’s draft was their first round selection of Dominique Easley, who has suffered two torn ACLs in the last three years.

“It is a risk, and that really surprised me,” said Reiss. “It’s both ACLs in three years, and some people say that modern medicine has advanced that it’s, I don’t want to say like an oil change, where you bring the car in and it comes out and it’s done. ACLs are serious, but you’re seeing more and more athletes come back quicker, and almost better, after them.

“This is a big-time talent that had surgery on both ACLs over the span in three years. Does he come back better? If he does, the Patriots get a steal, a player they never would have sniffed with the 29th pick,” added Reiss. “But if the knee gets hurt again, you can look back and ask why they went with the damaged goods.”

Reiss said if Easley is healthy, he could get some playing time on the New England defensive line in his first year as a pro.

“Go back to the AFC Championship game against Denver and why did they struggle? They couldn’t get pressure on Peyton Manning, specifically up the middle. When I look at Easley that’s what he does; penetrates and gets on you quick. I think he can help them, if healthy.”

Reiss also gives his grade for the Patriots draft, and which late-round picks could make some noise in 2014.

Tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night on WBZ-TV at 11:35pm!



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