5. Jimmy Garropolo (QB-NE)
Over the course of 2014, his only year of NFL experience, Jimmy Garropolo threw 27 passes over the course of six games, completing 19 of them. Given who is ahead of him on New England’s depth chart, Mr. Tom Brady, Garropolo has never been called upon to be the Patriots’ signal caller…until now.
If the NFL has its way, Brady will serve a four-game suspension in light of his ties to Deflategate. Brady, despite the NFL upholding a punishment originally agreed upon two months ago, will take the issue to court, which could prolong the process, and should Brady serve any form of suspension in 2015, it may not be served right away. It is one thing for Garropolo to be forced to start the season, by which the Patriots could begin 1-3 in facing the Steelers on opening night, the rejuvenated Bills in Week 2, and the Cowboys in Week 5 after a bye in Week 4 (in the midst of that run is a game against the Jaguars in Week 3, a winnable game no matter who is at the helm). Should Garropolo take the reins from Brady later in the season, say, in December, in the thick of a playoff hunt and race for a division title, then the second year quarterback’s situation becomes a great deal more precarious.
Has the young man learned enough from a future Hall of Famer to make a difference in New England if the situation forces him to?