According to JoeBucsFan, who spoke to Jimmy Garoppolo, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have met with the Eastern Illinois quarterback twice this offseason: once at the shrine game and once at the combine. That's interesting, but not particularly telling: teams will meet with players for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they're really interested, other times they simply want to know whether the player can explain some things that would normally eliminate him form consideration.
But that report did get me a little more interested in Garoppolo, which means I have now formed an opinion on him. That opinion goes "STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM HIM".
Jimmy Garoppolo is getting a lot of hype the last few days. Mike Mayock really liked Garoppolo. The scouts Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talked to seem to have nothing but praise for him, although he does rate behind four other quarterbacks on his list. He was the subject of much Senior Bowl praise, too. At first glance it's easy to see why: he has a pretty strong arm, is generally accurate, has good mechanics and a quick release, and he does a very good job of operating within his offense.
And yet, of all the quarterbacks in this draft, none scare me as much as Garoppolo. Not even Logan Thomas, who at least has a lot of physical tools to work with, if not the actual skills to use them consistently. But when I watch Garoppolo, I keep hearing this alarm in my head going "GABBERT GABBERT GABBERT GABBERT GABBERT."
Jimmy Garoppolo cannot handle pressure. In fact, he can't handle the pocket. His coaches did a great job of managing that by not giving him many opportunities to react to the pass rush. He operated almost exclusively from the shotgun, with very short drops and very quick throws and very defined reads behind an offensive line that routinely overpowered the opposition. There just wasn't much of a chance for Garoppolo to wilt under pressure.
And when Garoppolo was asked to operate the quick-passing offense, he did very well. Drop back, see read, throw ball. Easy. Except it isn't always that easy, and when a play did not develop according to plan, he crumbled. And in the NFL, things rarely develop according to plan.
Check out the plays at 2:00 and 3:15 below to see what I mean.
His pocket presence isn't always disastrous, and he can at times reorient and find an open receiver -- but it's that one moment of looking at the rush that will kill his career in the NFL. You can't do that. You have to feel the rush and adjust to it while keeping your eyes downfield, and Garoppolo just doesn't show the ability to do that. Players can improve on a lot of things when they get to the NFL, but I've yet to see any quarterback eliminate that specific flaw from his game.
This is why the Bucs' apparent interest in Garoppolo scares me. It's not like they don't have other options: the draft is filled with quarterbacks-with-question-marks who have shown they can handle the rush. Whose question marks are less likely to turn them into complete disaster. And who, more importantly, should be available much later in the draft than Garoppolo.
Now, "team meets with quarterback" isn't exactly surprising. "Team meets with quarterback twice" is slightly more surprising, but it doesn't actually mean as much as you may think. Maybe they simply had more questions for Garoppolo. Maybe they wanted to get a chance to let other decision makers talk to him. Maybe they think he'd be an intriguing late-round option. Who knows?
All I know is, I do not like Jimmy Garoppolo one bit.