You know about Johnny Manziel. You know about Blake Bortles. You even know about Derek Carr.

But what about Jimmy Garoppolo? In just a few short months, the Eastern Illinois quarterback has gone from relative anonymity to potential first-round draft pick.

“I watched Jimmy Garoppolo throw five passes at Eastern Illinois University, and the first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Somebody screwed up big time’ – because he should have been at an FBS school,” former Eastern Illinois coach and current Bowling Green coach Dino Babers said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “Jimmy Garoppolo would have been the starter at Texas A&M. Jimmy Garappolo would have been the starter at the University of Arizona. Jimmy Garoppolo is a big-time quarterback. Everybody’s going to figure out real quick how good this young man is. It happens sometimes. It just happens that a lot of people miss on somebody that they have no business missing on. This guy is going to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League.

“The guy can play,” Babers continued. “He’s intelligent, he’s sharp, he’s got one of the fastest releases I’ve probably seen (since) Dan Marino.”

Garoppolo, who is 6-2, 219, broke all of Tony Romo’s career passing records at Eastern Illinois, not to mention numerous Ohio Valley Conference records. He won the Walter Peyton Award in 2013 after throwing for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns. For his career, he threw for 13,156 yards and 118 touchdowns.

Comparing Garoppolo to Romo, therefore, is pretty easy.

It’s also unwise.

“I got a chance to meet Tony Romo and what a great guy (he is),” Babers said. “But the comparison is really not true. I’m not saying that Jimmy Garappolo is Tony Romo, but the thing you got to remember is Tony Romo was a free agent and made the Dallas Cowboys. Jimmy Garoppolo is going to get drafted in the first two rounds. The comparison’s not fair.”

According to scouts, Garoppolo has excellent field vision with a natural delivery.

“This guy’s decision-making process is unbelievable; he’s like a damn computer out there on the field,” Babers said. “And you put somebody with that sharp of a mind with that fast of a release and with the accuracy he has – Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t hit a guy running across the field; Jimmy Garoppolo hits a guy in the right pad; he hits him in the left pad; he hits them in the right hand; he hits him in the left hand. He hits what he’s throwing at. He’s the William Tell of college football. I’m telling you, when you put that accuracy with the quickest release we’ve seen since Dan Marino and you put it on somebody as intelligent as Jimmy Garoppolo – this guy is going to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. Write it down.”

And Garappolo didn’t just feast on weak competition, either. He threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-point win over San Diego State. He also threw for 450 yards and six touchdowns in a close loss to Northern Illinois.

“Every school that we played when we played an FBS school,” Babers said, “the best quarterback on the field was Jimmy Garoppolo.”


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