By: Ian Logue
The rumors surrounding Ryan Mallett have been swirling since the 2014 NFL Draft began, and the reality is regardless of whether or not the Patriots trade him to Houston, they were in a position where they needed to at least try their hand at selecting a quarterback this weekend.
The Patriots selected Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo Friday night.
(USA TODAY Images)
The only thing is, no one expected that it would happen as early as it did Friday night.
With the 62nd overall pick, former Patriots defensive end Willie McGinest was greeted to a sea of boos in New York wearing a Patriots T-shirt under his suit coat when he took the stage on behalf of his former team to announce the selection of Eastern Illinois quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.
Watching the reaction of quite a few fans here in New England, the boos echoed far outside New York at the news that Bill Belichick had spent a second round pick on a position that doesn’t directly help them this season.
It’s a pick that’s obviously puzzling, but not because they won’t need someone to replace Mallett after this year. It’s because Garoppolo’s presence solves more of the Patriots’ future problems and fewer of their present issues. With the Tom Brady and Belichick window closing, it made more sense to try and add another additional player to a team that was already within striking distance of a Super Bowl last year.
After all, Garoppolo may go on to someday win a lot of games in a few years, but Friday night was a reminder that the end of Brady’s amazing career as a Patriot is inching closer. As a result, everyone who has lived and died with his every throw, cheered every win or agonized over a loss, they’ve been a part of all of those big moments and most seem like they would have preferred New England brought in someone who could have helped him create a few more.
On the other hand, despite the fact the team has such other pressing needs, there are never any guarantees. Given the Patriots’ recent history in round two, it’s obviously not an exact science when it comes to selecting players who can become long-term contributors.
Aside from last year’s picks of Aaron Dobson and Jamie Collins in round two, the Patriots haven’t had the best luck in recent years when it comes to picking there. Going back to 2006, there have been quite a few swings and misses, to the point where it’s almost a little puzzling.
Needless to say for anyone looking for a little consolation while wondering why the Patriots spent such a high pick there, looking at this next list should be a reason to believe that if Garoppolo can establish himself as a future starter, it may be a much more positive move than some initially thought.
2006: WR Chad Jackson
2008: DB Terrence Wheatley
2009: S Patrick Chung, DT Ron Brace, CB Darius Butler, OT Sebastian Vollmer
2010: TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Jermaine Cunningham, LB Brandon Spikes
2011: CB Ras-I Dowling, RB Shane Vereen
2012: S Tavon Wilson
2013: LB Jamie Collins, WR Aaron Dobson
Looking at this group, out of 14 selections, only six have gone on to become real contributors for the Patriots, and you could make the argument that Spikes’ recent departure drops this list down to five.
So the obvious analogy is the fact that for every Rob Gronkowski and Sebastian Vollmer is a Jermaine Cunningham and Ras-I Dowling. There will always be guys who just don’t work out and no one ever really knows how it will play out until they get to work and hit the field.
There’s no arguing the fact that after this year the Patriots will need someone to play behind Brady and potentially replace him in the years to come. In the end, if Garoppolo can do what Mallett couldn’t and prove he’ll someday be able to adequately fill Brady’s shoes, then it could end up being a move that no one will question.
If he can’t, he’ll just be added to this list.