FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo were available to be selected in the 2017 NFL draft, where would he go? That scenario is thought-provoking, especially with a potential trade of Garoppolo (No. 62 overall pick in 2014) one of the hot-button storylines for the Patriots this offseason.
With that as a backdrop, I listened to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock's 135-minute conference call previewing the combine, and here were some of the Garoppolo-specific nuggets:
Comparison to be made to UNC's Mitch Trubisky. In terms of a draft grade, Mayock said he had Garoppolo rated at the same level in 2014 as he has North Carolina's Trubisky this year, which is at the second-round level.
"I think the kid's a starting quarterback in the NFL. I just don't think he's ready yet," Mayock said of Trubisky, who is in the discussion among the top quarterbacks in the '17 class (the primary concern is his lack of starting experience, 13 games).
So one way to view Garoppolo's current value is that an interested team would be investing in the three years of development he has had in New England, providing a more ready-now option than anything available in the draft.
A starting-caliber player. Mayock opened the call by going through the 21 first-round quarterbacks selected from 2007-2014, and identified 4-5 franchise signal-callers within the group (Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and possibly Joe Flacco). Then he pointed 3-4 other starters (Blake Bortles, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford and Flacco) and four backups (Teddy Bridgewater, EJ Manuel, Robert Griffin III, Mark Sanchez). Nine of the picks are no longer in the league.
Mayock mentioned this to point out the "hit rate" of top quarterbacks in the first round, before saying, "Now beyond the first round, there's been Derek Carr in the second, I'd throw Garoppolo in there as a potential quality starter in the second, Russell Wilson in the third, Kirk Cousins in the fourth and Andy Dalton in the second. So five potential quality starters outside of the first round. The numbers aren't real good."
Thoughts on fair value in a trade. Asked if Garoppolo would be worth a first-round pick in a trade, Mayock didn't hesitate. He isolated on the Browns' selection at No. 12, saying if Cleveland kept the No. 1 overall pick and secured one of the top defensive players (Texas A&M's Myles Garrett or Alabama's Jonathan Allen) and then could get Garoppolo with the 12th pick, he would be "stoked."
"I would feel like I got a difference-maker on defense, and we got our quarterback on offense," he said. "Especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."