2014 NFL Draft: Analyzing E. Illinois vs N. Illinois for Jimmy Garoppolo


Dec 13, 2013; Charleston, IL, USA; Eastern Illinois Panthers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) during the third quarter against the Towson Tigers at O

What’s up guys. Sorry it’s taken me so long to post another one of these things, my life has gotten extremely busy and chaotic (Discovered I’m going to India for 11 months in July 🙂 ) and I haven’t had a bunch of free time. As it is, I will try my best to be more regular with my posts up until draft time. Anyway.

It was really hard to find this game, so hard in fact that I couldn’t. I had to use the material provided by the folks over at DraftBreakdown (link is here) and could only get a cut-up of Jimmy G’s plays. By the way, they’re a great site and have a lot of info. Check them out sometime. As far as this cut-up went (about midway through the 4th Quarter), it did show some telling signs into the elusive man that is Jimmy Garoppolo.

But what were they, Zach? Is he a franchise QB, or is he another Gabbert? What is the winning lotto number? Please tell us the future!

Have no fear, I’m getting there.

Northern Illinois Background: If I recall, the NI defense was nationally ranked last year, which led to their playing and getting destroyed in a bowl game against Oregon. Looking at them this year, however, not much stands out. They seem to play hard and fast, at least in the MAC, but their relative lack of playmakers makes this, the best of Garoppolo’s competition, seem rather underwhelming.

Eastern Illinois Background: I’ll be honest – I haven’t the first piece of information or thoughtful analysis on Eastern Illinois. I know they put up a lot of points and have a good QB. Beyond that, however, they are just another part of the enigmatic aura surrounding Jimmy G.

During this part of my writing I usually go into the proportion of total plays that the QB audibled or adjusted. However, with the cut-up that I watched, it only showed the passing plays, so I can’t do that this time. Please forgive the rather scant nature of this piece. I can still tell you a little about the EI offense, though. They seemed to run a pretty standard Spread system, although they threw many more passes over the middle than I’m used to seeing Spread attacks do. They still had the outside and inside screens, of course, but the majority of throws were over the middle.

On to the chart. Have I ever told you how much I like the chart? I like the chart. (D’s are drops, $’s are Touchdowns, @’s are Interceptions, and T’s are throwaways)

Yardage RankLeftCenterRightTotal with Raw Percent (%Adjusted)
1 to 54 of 5, D3 of 43 of 310 of 12, 83% (91%) D
5 to 100 of 1, D5 of 74 of 6, D9 of 14, 64% (75%) DD
10 to 204 of 5, $@2 of 35 of 7, DT11 of 15,73% (84%) $@DT
20+2 of 5, $@1 of 1, $1 of 2, $4 of 7, 57% $$$@
Totals10 of 16, DD$$@@11 of 15, $13 of 18, DDT$
63% (71%)73%72% (81%)

Overall on the day (and this goes beyond what I was able to see in the cut-ups), Mr. G was 34 of 49 for 450 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. That’s a 9.2 official average, with at least a 77% adjusted average. He scrambled once, and he was sacked five times over the course of what I was able to watch. Intriguing stats, to be sure, but as I always say, we never judge QBs, or any position for that matter, by statistical performance. We judge them by traits.

Let’s start with the positives. Arguably his best quality is his quick, compact release. He can maneuver the ball with accuracy and speed, and doesn’t give edge rushers the ability to bat it out from the sides. As you can tell from his short to intermediate accuracy, this served him well – in fact it seemed as if their offense was predicated on his ability to perform timing route well. His accuracy and arm strength was also a big part of this. He’s no Bridgewater or Manziel, but he displays an NFL-caliber arm, to be sure. He won’t blow you away with his deep ball, or fit it into inch-sized windows, but he can generally make almost any throw you ask him to. An important facet of this is his ability to make very quick reads. He showed a talent in this game to be able to go through his progressions very quickly, although that might come from being in a simple spread offense. One thing that will be a part of his skill-set regardless of the offense he lands in is his fade throw. While once again not on the level of a Bridgewater or a Carr, his fade throw typically displayed the necessary touch and placement to hit on what is typically the most ‘NFL-ready’ throw there is. Finally, one of his most impressive aspects of his game was his footwork. I would put him on par with Bridgewater in this aspect. When you think about the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys, one of their most important qualities is quick, almost unnaturally moving feet. Now of course I’m not going to compare this guy to those two (unpaid blogger career suicide) but the similarities are there. His fast feet allow him to easily shift from one target to another and helps him land softly if he’s sacked. Overall, he plays with an efficiency and timing to his game that can make him very attractive to the right system, especially a West Coast attack.

Now on to the negatives. Two interceptions are always bad. Period. Sometimes, they happen because receivers run bad routes or drop the ball,  but in this case they were mainly the result of questionable decision-making. He wasn’t throwing the ball wildly and carelessly, but these two picks were into double- or triple-coverage. At best this could mean a lot of self-confidence, at worst a debilitating inability to read defenses. He also displays below average pocket presence, as evidenced by the five sacks he took. His offensive line was generally pretty solid, but when he tried to extend the play, he seemed to run right into a hit. Which brings me to my last negative, which is his average mobility. Now, I wouldn’t normally call “average” mobility a negative, but Jedd Fisch’s offense runs a mobile-pocket system. In addition, Caldwell has said he prefers a mobile QB. To top it off, everything and everyone in the NFL will be faster, especially coming from the MAC. A lack of mobility, considering these things, could be seriously detrimental to his draft stock. He’s an interesting prospect, to be sure, but his negatives can’t be overlooked.

Jimmy Garoppolo is a good, but not great QB with limited upside. His throwing form and platform are his best traits and speak to the amount of preparation and hard work he’s put into refining his game. His physical tools, however, aren’t the best. Average height, average arm strength and accuracy, average athleticism. Typically, when looking for a Franchise Quarterback, you want a guy who does one thing exceptionally well and everything else well, so that you can build an offense around his style of play. If a QB doesn’t have that one incredible attribute, he falls into ‘game-manager’ territory. That’s what I’m projecting Jimmy G as: a game manager with little room to grow. Now, I may be completely wrong about his upside, and Gus Bradley’s staff may have seen something in him at the Senior Bowl, but as it is, I wasn’t very impressed. I don’t think the Jaguars should spend anything higher than a fourth- or MAYBE a third-round pick on Jimmy Garoppolo. If they select him higher than that, well, I’ll be excited for him and our team and hope my scouting reports aren’t all as inaccurate. For now, though, he is what he is.

Be blessed, everyone.


(Thanks for reading this, guys. Feel free to comment below or share through all your new-fangled “Social Networking” sites. They’re just a fad, anyway….)