New England Patriots: Why They Should Get a First Round Pick for Jimmy Garoppolo

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. The Patriots won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. The Patriots won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots have a valuable trade asset in Jimmy Garoppolo. Is a first round pick fair compensation if they trade him?

One of the names to monitor heading into the 2017 NFL Draft for the New England Patriots is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. With Tom Brady still playing at a high level, trading Garoppolo could be an option. If they do trade him, what should they expect back in return?

How many Quarters is enough?

Six Quarters. Six Quarters is all the competitive NFL action that the quarterback-hungry teams have to go on to evaluate Jimmy Garoppolo. His preseason play before 2016 was distinctly average but then again so were the second and third string players he played with and against, so it is difficult to judge him on those performances.

The first four quarters against Arizona’s strong defense went well; 24-for-33 for 264 yards and a TD. The next two quarters (against Miami) is where the league collectively sat up and started to pay attention to the small school project. Garoppolo started the game 18-for-26 for 232 yards and 3 TD’s. Not only were his box statistics excellent, his poise and presence under center were almost Brady-eque. Almost.

What can you get for a 1st round pick?

Obviously there is a big difference between drafting at one and drafting at thirty-two. The draft itself is an inexact science. Despite the advances in analytics, thorough scouting and personality assessments, teams can still miss spectacularly when drafting.

Let’s take a look at the quarterbacks drafted since 2010 and place them into two categories; “Draft Success” or “Draft Bust”. A player will be considered a bust if they are perceived to have not lived up to the 1st round talent.

Draft Success

Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)

Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)

Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)

Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota Vikings)

James Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans)

Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Draft Bust

Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)

Tim Tebow (Denver Broncos)

Jake Locker (Tennessee Titans)

Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings)

Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins)

Brandon Weeden (Cleveland Browns)

EJ Manuel (Buffalo Bills)

Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns)

One or two of the players’ above could be placed in the other category such as Bortles, Tannehill or Bradford but the 44% conversion rate in drafting quarterbacks in the first round since 2010 (excluding 2016) proves that using a first round pick on a Quarterback is far from a sure-thing.

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The 2017 Draft

If the Quarterback-needy teams want to find their franchise leader in as soon as possible then this draft isn’t the one. If you look at the “Draft Success” group above, 5 out of 7 players were top 5 draft picks. Conversely, only 2 out of 9 of the “Draft Busts” were picked inside the top 5. There is a clear correlation between Top 5 picks and their success rate in the NFL from the evidence above.

So, what is the quarterback situation like in 2017? Lets let the experts tell us. According to the draft analysts, (Daniel Jeremiah, Chad Reuter, Charley Casserly, Bucky Brooks and Lance Zierlein) only one of them projects a quarterback going in the top 5. For the record it is Zierlein who predicts that Mitch(ell) Trubisky will go to the 49ers with the second pick. Obviously these are just mock drafts and one of the teams could reach and take a Quarterback early.  However, the scouting reports on most of the talent is that even the best prospects (Trubisky, Watson and Kizer) have a mid-tier ceiling in the NFL and are likely to be drafted in the middle or late in the first round.

The Brandin Cooks Trade

Perhaps unknowingly, by trading Brandin Cooks for the Patriots 1st round pick this year, Bill Belichick has in some ways set the market for the value of a first round pick, albeit a late in round one. Normally 1st round picks are treated with reverence. Only elite players get traded for these picks in conventional circumstances. However, for their 1st round pick this year the Patriots have acquired a good, not great wide receiver. He has averaged just over 1,100 yards per year and has yet to break double-digit touchdowns for a season. All this happened while playing in the explosive, pass-centric New Orleans Saints offence with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees throwing him the football.

Whilst his career statistics should not be dismissed by any means, this is a player whose production is matched by players a lot less vaunted than he is; Rishard Matthews, Davante Adams and Kenny Stills all caught more touchdowns than Cooks last year. By no means are we belittling Cooks’ talent. He is a good player, but he hasn’t got the talent of a Jones, Green or Beckham and that firmly places him in the second tier of receiver talent.

The Sam Bradford Factor

Samuel Jacob Bradford has been a polarizing talent ever since being drafted 1st overall in 2010. In 2016, he was traded to the Vikings for a 1st round pick and a conditional 4th rounder in 2018. Bradford has been an oft-injured, capable starter over the course of his career. In 2016 he had a career year which helped quash the detractors who thought the Vikings had given up too much to obtain him.  If Bradford can command a first rounder and more, then what should the Patriots look for Garoppolo?

Next: Can any AFC East Team Challenge New England in 2017?

What should the Patriots seek in a trade?

If Cooks, a borderline Pro Bowl wide receiver in a league full of excellent receivers, is worth a first round pick, Jimmy Garoppolo should surely be worth more than that. Sam Bradford provides a decent comparison, an injury-plagued disappointment as the former first overall pick. Garoppolo is younger and has the potential to be a superior player to Bradford over the course of his career. If a team believes he is going to be their franchise quarterback for the next ten years then the negotiations should begin with at least a first round pick and move on from there. If one is to look at the market trends for first round picks then the rumors of the Patriots taking a second round pick should be treated with skepticism.