BOSTON (CBS) – Patriots fans were left in disbelief Friday night when the team elected to spend their second round pick (no. 62 overall) on Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Head coach and personnel decision maker Bill Belichick defended the pick in a press conference afterwards and said, “I think you’re better off being early than late at that position.”

Albert Breer of the NFL Network is in lock step with the Patriots and Belichick trying to find Tom Brady’s heir apparent now than when it’ll be too late, and he provided historical examples to prove his point Tuesday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show.

“The top six quarterbacks of the 1990s were Brett Favre, John Elway, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Jim Kelly and Troy Aikman. Of those six guys, clearly the best successor of them is Aaron Rodgers — here are the other five: Brian Griese, Jay Fiedler, Jeff Garcia, Todd Collins and Quincy Carter. Some of those teams still haven’t solved the quarterback problem.

“What they have in common, if you look at the five of the six that really had trouble replacing the legends, in all five cases that position wasn’t addressed until either a year before the quarterback retired or the year the quarterback did retire. Aaron Rodgers was addressed way earlier than that. Green Bay drafted Rodgers three years before he ever started a game.

“You don’t want to put yourself in a position at the end of a quarterback’s career to box yourself in, and boxed into a single draft class or two. … You want to give yourself a little flexibility. That’s what the Packers did, and that’s what the 49ers did with Joe Montana.”

Fred notes the approach of the Seattle Seahawks, who “kept throwing darts at the dartboard” in landing their signal caller.

Seattle had Matt Hasselbeck for one year under Pete Carroll. After that they traded for Charlie Whitehurst, brought in Tavaris Jackson, signed Matt Flynn and eventually drafted Russell Wilson in the third round.

John Idzik is doing the same thing with the Jets, and Breer notes, “Not everybody is going to have the Indianapolis Colts’ opportunity, who happened to suck in the best year possible. Most teams have to solve it the other way. ” Adding, “You don’t want to be forced to pick from a small pool of players on the most important position on the field.”

No team can bank on being as fortunate as the Colts, and given the importance of the position and the crapshoot nature of the draft, “the dartboard approach” is something you’ll start to see with more regularity as time goes on — especially with the rookie wage scale.

“This is the first shot [New England] has taken where you can actually say inside that organization they could envision [Garoppolo] being the replacement to Brady.”

Listen below for the full discussion, including an injury update on Rob Gronkowski and why the Patriots didn’t draft a tight end:



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