For the first time in decades, Bill Belichick may be forced to do without Tom Brady in Week 1. And it’s a scary thought for Patriots fans.

Once Judge Richard Berman had ruled in favor of Tom Brady, it first seemed Deflategate may have been laid to rest. But Roger Goodell and the NFL’s legal team have seemingly brought the case against Brady back from the dead. The reports out of New York Thursday were not exactly positive for the Brady camp.

So, who exactly is Tom Brady’s backup Jimmy Garoppolo?

Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois. (Photo courtesy OVC Sports)
Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois.

Jimmy G is a 6-foot-2-inch 225 pound quarterback from Eastern Illinois of the FCS. He originally hailed from Arlington Heights, Illinois and flourished at Rolling Meadows high school. He was immediately a hit as a starting quarterback within the Ohio Valley Conference: 1,639 yards, 14 touchdowns as a freshman helped him attain All-Ohio Valley conference newcomer team honors. He never missed a game playing for the Panthers through his entire career. In his senior year he would total 4,489 yards in 12 games for an incredible 48 touchdowns. Garoppolo would rack up a ton of hardware despite falling short to the Towson Tigers in the FCS National playoffs. Some of the awards included OVC Offensive Player of the Year and National FCS Quarterback of the Year. Most impressive of them all, Garapollo was named the winner of the D1-AA Heisman, and the Walter Peyton Award.

The Patriots drafted JG10 in the second round with pick No. 62. “With the situation we have at quarterback, I think that we felt as an organization that we needed to address that to some degree in the future, so we’ll see how all that works out but I think you’re better off being early than late at that position,” Belichick said after selecting Garoppolo.

In the combine, Garopollo ran a 4.96 40-time, registered 30.5 inches in the vertical, leaped 110 inches in the broad, and completed the three-cone drill in 7.03.

Some analysts complimented him on his ability to get the ball out of his hand quickly, with a very smooth throwing motion. Garoppolo was extremely athletic in his time with Eastern Illinois and demonstrated impressive poise and toughness in the pocket. Some of his most negative critique was because of his level of competition in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The biggest question is not the physical ability or dedication to the game for Jimmy Garapollo. The real question is whether or not he can translate his college success to a higher level. Garapollo has had a few seasons to study the playbook and soak in as much as possible from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. He has seen limited competition during his career and has every motivation to prove he is among the best quarterbacks in the league.

The cold, hard truth is that Tom Brady is getting older by the second. Belichick would not have drafted a quarterback so high in the draft if he did not believe in his ability to potentially replace Brady. Garapollo may have the chance to take the reigns of an NFL dynasty from Brady, perhaps sooner than New England fans would like.

Despite a clear lack in experience, Garapollo clearly possesses the physical abilities to be successful in the professional game. It will be up to him to prove his true ceiling to the Patriots when his time comes, whether it’s the first four games of 2016 or when Brady eventually retires.

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