FOXBORO -- The Patriots could have taken a player in the second round of the draft to help Tom Brady.
Instead, they took a player who will back up the future Hall of Famer in the autumn of Brady’s Patriots career.
Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois was selected No. 62. If he went to 31 other teams, he might have toiled in obscurity or reached stardom and it would have been about Jimmy Garoppolo alone.
Now, he’s a fairly major character in the Book of Brady. He’ll either be the player Brady beat back as he approached his 40th birthday or Garoppolo will be the man who beat out, replaced or succeeded arguably the best quarterback in NFL history.
As the Walter Payton Award winner at FCS -- the Triple A level of college football formerly as Division I-AA -- Garoppolo’s name was attached to two other Eastern Illinois quarterbacks of note. Tony Romo and Sean Payton.
Now he will be inextricably linked to Brady.
The Patriots have been tire-kicking on quarterbacks throughout this draft season. It’s not a surprise they took one. But it is a surprise they took one this highly. At least to me. Brady has shown no signs of slippage (10 picks in 2013 despite having a group of targets he’d basically never thrown to). The end is not near.
That being the case, the Patriots second-round pick, in my opinion, will never beat out Brady.
Consider the way the contractual logistics.
Brady’s signed through 2017. His salaries are anachronisms. He’ll make $2 million in 2014 (and $15 million in bonuses), $12 million in 2015, $8 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017.
Garoppolo will come in on a four-year deal which will bring him through…2017.
Ryan Mallett? One would think the Patriots are checking the shipping rates right now to get Big Tex moving to a better locale, but the team’s been peeing on that notion since last evening.
The Patriots have taken third-rounders since Brady’s been boss -- Kevin O’Connell in 2008 and Mallett in 2011 -- but Garoppolo is the first second-rounder.
And that brings a different dynamic. Use a third-through-seventh rounder and the kid is regarded as roster-fodder. An “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” option. Second round is different.
And it’s especially different in 2014 given the Patriots selected a rehabbing defensive lineman with their first-round pick (Dominique Easley) and now a player who -- unless things go terribly wrong -- will not see the field this season.
In short, the Patriots have done nothing in the first two rounds of this draft to immediately help their team.
Now, since this draft is very deep (the most talented in 30 years, according to Steelers personnel chief Kevin Colbert) very good players remain.
Further, Nick Caserio pointed out last week that this team is competitive all over the roster as presently constituted. There is no spot where you wonder who they’ll start. There are spots where you wonder who will play if the starter gets hurt, but they have answers all over the roster.