Jimmy Garoppolo: Where Does He Rank Among Quarterbacks?

One of the most sought after quarterbacks has little experience to point to. Where does Jimmy Garoppolo rank among NFL quarterbacks?

Now that the New England Patriots have won the Super Bowl, the team’s most pressing decision comes with what to do with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Everyone around the league is very high on him, despite him having fewer than 100 career pass attempts across three seasons. Last year, he was the very best passer in the NFL in Total QBR among everyone with at least 75 registered plays.

On the one hand, the Patriots would surely love to have Garoppolo take over for Tom Brady as the team’s starting quarterback when the latter retires. However, that could be another three or four years at this point. They can’t wait that long, sitting on a valuable asset. If everyone in the NFL wants Garoppolo, where does he truly rank among quarterbacks? Who’d you rather have?

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, discuss Jimmy Garoppolo in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

Obviously, there are a slew of teams with no quarterback who would love to have Garoppolo as their franchise guy; it’s just a matter of how much they’d be willing to give up for him. However, I am more interested in how highly you would value Garoppolo in general. Scouts say he has a great feel for pre-snap reads, especially considering his experience. He doesn’t have the strongest arm but possesses a quick release. He isn’t a runner, but has good athleticism for the position.

In my mind, he is essentially a first-round NFL prospect who has already been learning in the league for a few years. Do you feel the same way? It’s time to play a round of Who’d You Rather. Let’s break this down into pairings to see just how high up the list Garopollo can get.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Blake Bortles?
We have seen more from Bortles over his career. That “more” was arguably worse, but he had a pretty solid 2015 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Ryan Tannehill?
Tannehill never amazes, but he has become a quality starting quarterback in this league. The upside is the question with him.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Tony Romo?
If you can stomach Romo’s injury concerns and age, he is the superior option I feel. Those are huge parameters, though.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Carson Palmer?
Palmer was pretty bad in 2016 and had a number of average seasons before that. Yet, he was an MVP favorite in 2015. Which is real, and how much longer does he remain in the league?

Jimmy Garoppolo or Tyrod Taylor?
The Bills didn’t want him anymore for some reason. I am personally a fan of his running and passing combo. Taylor is a poor man’s version of the dual-threat, elites but is still pretty good.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Sam Bradford?
The master of the check-down, it remains to be seen if Bradford can actually complete a pass more than six yards from the line of scrimmage.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Alex Smith?
The king of consistency, Smith has a very high floor and a very low ceiling. He lives in a loft.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Joe Flacco?
Flacco has a Super Bowl ring to his name, but outside of that magical playoff run, he has been very ordinary at the quarterback position.

Jimmy Garoppolo or Carson Wentz?
Wentz is the best of the youngest generation of quarterbacks. He actually has more experience than Garoppolo thanks to starting all year for Philadelphia.

Dan Salem:

Its hard to put much stock in less than two games of action last season, but Garoppolo certainly shined for New England when called upon. I agree with your first round evaluation, but he is still a prospect and that comes with a very well known list of concerns and caveats. I’d take Garoppolo over nearly half of the quarterbacks in the NFL because his upside and cieling are really high unknowns, but in a Who’d Your Rather have on your team? That question comes down to age, experience, and reliability.

I’m taking Garoppolo over all of the following quarterbacks:

  • Tony Romo
  • Carson Palmer
  • Sam Bradford
  • Alex Smith

Romo and Palmer are obviously better players on paper, having proven their abilities over multiple seasons playing at a high level. Yet both are near the very ends of their respective careers, making them high injury risks. They are also front and center players to experience late career declines in their abilities. Garoppolo probably makes fewer mistakes than either veteran as well.

Bradford was slightly better than average last year, so I’ll take a guy like Garoppolo with a high cieling any day. A younger more exciting quarterback is always the preference. This is why I’m not taking Alex Smith either. While Smith always does more than enough to win, making very few mistakes, we know exactly what we get with him. Garoppolo offers possibility and more diverse options in your playbook.

I’m NOT taking Garoppolo over any of the following quarterbacks:

  • Blake Bortles
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • Tyrod Taylor
  • Joe Flacco
  • Carson Wentz

Rag on Bortles all you want, but after his stellar 2015 season most people thought he would continue to climb. I’m not sure if he does so with the Jaguars, but I’m a big fan of what he brings to the table. Removing the team from the equation, I love Bortles as my quarterback. We don’t know enough about how Garoppolo will handle a full season, but we have seen Bortles take adversity head on.

Both Tannehill and Taylor have excelled at quarterback. Neither make a lot of mistakes and both offer a different style of versatility that’s highly advantageous to an offense. Garoppolo likely plays at the same level as both of these guys eventually, but as a virtual “rookie” he probably hits a few more speed bumps. I’m betting on a proven skill set, not a high cieling in this instance.

Flacco and Wentz are opposite ends of the same spectrum. While I don’t enjoy watching Flacco play, he has all the experience and success you want at the position. Wentz played very well for a rookie and is simply farther along than Garoppolo in terms of on-field experience and success. I don’t love this decision, but Garoppolo must be passed over in favor of these two guys.

Jimmy Garoppolo, if given the opportunity, is going to find himself near the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. Circumstance will determine if he ever cracks the list, but he has the skill set to succeed at that level. I love what I’ve seen, but its not enough to give him the job over someone who’s done more for longer.

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