It was an emotional second day of the draft, even though not much happened. The Patriots selected Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick in what is more an affront on our psyche than a punt of a draft pick.
Current quarterback Tom Brady will be 37 at the start of the season. Simple math points to him being 38 in 2015. Brady has over 400 pass attempts in every season as a starter, and over 500 attempts in nine of his past eleven years as a starter. Here's a short list of every quarterback in NFL history with 400 or more pass attempts over the age of 38. This is the list of the 500+ club:
Warren Moon, 2277 attempts
Brett Favre, 1946 attempts
Vinny Testaverde, 1498 attempts
Doug Flutie, 978 attempts
Fran Tarkenton, 572 attempts
Brad Johnson, 528 attempts
Kurt Warner, 513 attempts
It's not a long list. For most, it shows the age-38 season as the last effective year. For a team projecting Brady to have a comeback against time, they might ignore the fact that he's really freaking old (in football years). Should Brady have two or three more years at the helm, that will push him into the top three with Moon and Favre as he'd easily eclipse Testaverde's attempt numbers with three years (we're ignoring Peyton Manning chasing the same ghosts).
Two years is the barrier, three years is the likely edge of the world. Brady will be in the final year of his contract in year four. So will Jimmy Garoppolo. In this situation, the Patriots are prepared when Brady can no longer contribute, or Brady somehow beats history. Either way, it's better to have a plan in place than to be caught off-guard.
Oh, and it seems like Ryan Mallett will be expected to play out the final year on his contract.
Garoppolo seems like a great fit in New England. Let's hope that he's not needed earlier than necessary.
As for the Patriots' second round pick, the team missed out on all the talent that was snapped up in a row before their pick. The second round is honestly a laundry list of players I thought would be terrific fits in New England, but other teams had a similar viewpoint. I was under the impression that there might be a run at defensive tackle and wide receiver, leaving the Patriots with the options at running back, tight end, and pass rusher. I missed that one big time as the exact opposite happened.
Was there talent that could help the Patriots still on the board? Absolutely. TE CJ Fiedorowicz, C Marcus Martin, and DE Scott Crichton all went in the following ten picks and all could have helped out on day one. However, if the team is viewing this as the draft at which they had to select Brady's heir (and all signs and reports are pointing that direction), I do not hold the pick of Garoppolo against the front office for one second.
As for the third round pick, I don't blame the Patriots for trading down. They were holding out hope that some of the second round talent would still be available, but the last player of that caliber was selected directly in front of them (OG Trai Turner, to Carolina). When OG Gabe Jackson, DT Will Sutton, DT Louis Nix III, and DE Kareem Martin went consecutively at 81 to 83, and when WR Donte Moncrief went to Indianapolis at 90, the Patriots likely started to look for anyone who would be interested in making a move.
Why? Because the rest of the talent is fairly interchangeable. There's always a breaking point in the draft where the top prospects disappear and the rest of the rounds comes down to which players have the most upside and which teams can squeeze the most out of their talents. The Patriots are looking to use up all their free roster spots on camp battles, so they're clearly interested in picking up as many of these middle-tier talents as possible.
Of course, we can see that the Jaguars won this trade via the draft chart tool (105 + 179 vs 93), with the Jaguars improving their draft value by 14%. But the Patriots were willing to give up that value in exchange for additional draft picks.
The Patriots need to improve their depth at plenty of positions, but it's no longer likely that a rookie would beat out a starter for week 1 (and honestly you could have said this about the talent available in round 2). The Patriots are trying to find high upside prospects who can contribute as rotational players as they grow. No instant starters necessary.
New England is loaded with three fourth round picks and three sixth round picks, so you can be certain that the team is going to continue to move around the board. With plenty of linebackers and running backs still on the table, look for the Patriots to be slightly more aggressive on day three. Additionally, the interior line position may be out of its top prospects, but there is definitely still talent available.
I think people are going to like Garoppolo. His favorite football player growing up was Tom Brady. He has a ginormous chip on his shoulder. Here's a couple of his answers from his press conference that will give you a taste on what he'll bring to the team:
Q: How confident are you? Obviously the Patriots wouldn’t have drafted you to come into this kind of situation unless you could handle it maturity wise and physically. How would you characterize those parts of your personality?
JG: It fits me very well. They’re a very blue collar organization. It seemed like all business and they get to work. That’s what I’m excited about. I’m one of those guys; I’m a blue collar guy and I go to work every day. That’s what I’m most excited about and it fits my personality very well, so I think it’s a very good fit.
Q: If you had to critique yourself, what do you have to improve most before you come in here and once you’re here?
JG: Just the knowledge of the game. There’s a huge learning curve between the college and the NFL game and I think just getting into the NFL system, being on an NFL team and learning from the veterans, I’ll be ok with that. Just learn from the guys that have been there done that and we’ll just take it day by day.
Q: What would you say is your greatest strength right now?
JG: My greatest strength is my work ethic, I would say. I’m a guy who goes to work every day and I’m going to put in the time, put in the hours that are needed and more. I think that’s something that I bring to the table.
He's already got Belichick-speech down. He'll fit right in.