A day after media rumors swirled that the Patriots were shopping backup QB Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans, New England selected a quarterback with their second pick of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois had a record-setting 2013 college season which he followed up with an impressive pre-draft process, including his performance at the college all-star games. With the 62nd overall pick (30th in the 2nd round), the Patriots made Garoppolo the highest drafted quarterback by the franchise since Drew Bledsoe went first overall in 1993.
Despite playing at a small school program, Garoppolo was one of several high-profile QB prospects to visit with the Patriots in Foxborough before the draft. Yet, he told reporters via conference call that he was still somewhat shocked to get the call – especially given that he's now at least competing to be the number-two passer behind Tom Brady.
"It's a great opportunity for a guy like me, a young player. I have a lot to learn. I know that, and I'm excited about it… I'm looking forward to getting back there. To go in the second round is a real honor.
"I feel good about it," Garoppolo said of possibly sitting on the bench behind Brady for the foreseeable future. "Whether I'm coming in as a starter or a backup, my mindset is the same… I'm going to try and get better each and every day. That's what good football players do.
"There's going to be a learning curve, but I know that going into it. I'm excited about it. It's a great opportunity to grow as a quarterback and as a football player. That's what I'm going there to do.
"He's got a lot of qualities that we admire in a quarterback," head coach Bill Belichick told reporters following Round 3. "Very productive player. Different level of competition, but hopefully he can make that adjustment."
Belichick went on to allude to the fact that Brady is getting close to the end of his illustrious career.
"The situation we have at quarterback, we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future. We'll see how all that works out. I think we're better off being early rather than late with that position."
With the 62nd overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft the Patriots selected Jimmy Garoppolo, QB from Eastern Illinois. Check out photos from his college career.
Belichick was asked about the veracity of an internet report that one of his team's scouting reports on QB Johnny Manziel (drafted in the first round by Cleveland) had been leaked to the public. He made light of the situation, but didn't actually flat-out deny that it was Patriots property being circulated.
"I would say we probably have… what, 10,000 pages of information? That's a lot of information. There's no way I'd say I've read it all. We have a ton of information on all the players, so, what's online, you'll have to talk to the geniuses that are online."
New England started the day with two picks – one each in Rounds 2 and 3 – but after taking Garoppolo, the Patriots traded their third-round selection (93rd overall) to Jacksonville for the Jaguars' fourth-round choice (105th overall) and a sixth (179th overall). This gives New England three picks in the sixth round, and nine selections total heading into Saturday.
"We've been able to pick some players that have been productive for us on the third day of the draft. Hopefully that'll be the case for us tomorrow," added Belichick.
The draft concludes Saturday with rounds 4 through 7, beginning at noon.