INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears are set at quarterback for the foreseeable future after locking up Jay Cutler to a long-term extension this offseason, but one of the top signal callers in the 2014 NFL Draft wouldn't mind returning home to Chicago.
Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a projected second-round pick, told CSNChicago.com that it would be "amazing" to be drafted by his hometown club. A local kid from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Garoppolo starred for Rolling Meadows High School before capping off his stellar college career with the Walter Payton award, which is given to the the most outstanding offensive player in the FCS.
Garoppolo didn't receive much national attention during his time with the Panthers as only a handful of his college games were televised, but two post-season All-Star game appearances vaulted the relatively unknown commodity from Arlington Heights to a likely Day 2 draft selection.
“The exposure really helps a small school guy like me," Garoppolo said. "It’s tough for us to get our names out there. We’re not always on ESPN and on TV and everything like that, so every little bit of exposure like that helps me and helps get my name out there. Playing well in both the games really helped me too throughout the week and everything and mentally helped me too. Just getting ready for that pro-style offense, that NFL style practice every week and all of that just adds up.”
Garoppolo wowed NFL scouts during the Senior Bowl and the East-West shrine game. He hasn't surpassed the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles, but many NFL Draft pundits have him listed as a Top 5 quarterback. NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock thinks that Garoppolo helped himself as much as anybody in the Senior Bowl and has raved about his size and quick release.
And unlike many of the high profile names, Garoppolo isn't afraid to show off the aforementioned skill set at the Combine. “I wanted to come out and showcase my talent against the other best quarterbacks in the nation, that’s what the combine is all about," he said.
While continuing to improve his draft stock, Garoppolo has been fine tuning his craft in Los Angeles at Athletes' Performance Institute with former NFL quarterback Ty Detmer. Garoppolo will look to follow in the footsteps of Tony Romo, who after a standout career at EIU went on to become a three-time Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys.
"A quarterback is never done learning. No part of my game is perfect by any means. So, if I could keep progressing the way I am day in and day out then I’ll be in good hands.”