FOXBOROUGH — With their two picks on Friday, the New England Patriots did one thing that surprised everyone and another that surprised no one.
Their day began with the shocking selection of Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and ended with a less-than-shocking trade out of the third round, with the Patriots giving up the 93rd pick to move down to the 105th pick (fourth round) and add the 179th pick (sixth round) as well.
Garoppolo is considered a cerebral quarterback with less-than-ideal physical traits but a quick release.
In drafting Garoppolo, the Patriots have immediately lent credence to the recent rumors and reports that they have been talking to teams about trading backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The 2011 third-round pick enters the final year of his rookie deal in 2014, and is unlikely to return in 2015 whether he departs via trade or free agency.
"The situation we have at quarterback, I think we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We'll see how that all works out, but I think you're better off being early rather than late at that position."
The better-early-than-late reasoning applies regardless of whether Belichick was talking about being early in addressing the backup spot with Mallett potentially on his way out, or the starting spot with Brady's career nearing its end.
As a player, Garoppolo resembles Brady in his cerebral nature, with the ability to quickly read a defense and go through his progressions. He has a quick release, but has questionable arm strength with the velocity to fit throws into tight windows while making accurate deep passes. Garoppolo is more mobile than Brady in the pocket, but sometimes gets happy feet when he senses the rush getting closer.
He has many of the tools expected of an NFL quarterback. And with time to learn from Brady, he could sharpen those tools into a deadly arsenal.
The Patriots also moved back 12 spots from the 93rd to 105th pick, and added the 179th pick in the process.
"I felt the value of moving back for whichever player we pick tomorrow, based on where we were, that we could maintain the integrity of that value and add a pick," Belichick said.
With the trade, the Patriots now have seven picks remaining in the draft and nine picks total.
Through three rounds, the Patriots have drafted two players, and it's possible that neither of them will be opening day starters. That being said, there are plenty of positions the Patriots could still address in rounds 4-7. Look for the Patriots to address holes at running back, tight end, offensive guard, center and defensive end with their seven selections on the final day of the draft, set to kick off Saturday at noon.