79 14 3 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

NEW YORK – Jimmy Garoppolo was so stunned to learn his draft fate Friday night, he fumbled to find his voice.

Growing up in Arlington Heights, Ill., Garoppolo modeled his game growing up after New England Patriots three-time Super Bowl-winner Tom Brady.

Now the Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback from Eastern Illinois University will spend the next few years learning from his idol.

It also appears that backup Ryan Mallett is the first Patriots quarterback Garoppolo will be groomed to replace.

DAY 2: Breaking down every pick

DRAFT: Historic RB drought ends

Patriots coach Bill Belichick selected Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick as a developmental hedge fund, with Mallett is entering his free-agent year. Garoppolo's arrival could make Mallett an expendable trade commodity come training camp.

Brady, meanwhile, turns 37 on Aug. 3 and has said he intends to play until he's 40.

"It was unbelievable," Garoppolo said. "I was speechless for a second. I'm not going to lie to you.

"It's a very awesome scenario to go into."

The self-described blue-collar kid is the perfect fit for the blue-collar Brady-Belichick Patriots.

"I started playing quarterback my junior year of high school," Garoppolo said.

"It was when Tom was just getting started. His poise in the pocket and the way he takes control of the entire offense is something I've always tried to emulate."

MORE: Lee's wait ends with Jags

DRAFT: Eagles find fit in second-round WR

So what would it feel like to one day be the next starting quarterback for the Patriots?

"I would love the opportunity," Garoppolo said. "That's why we all play the game. You want to be a player, you want to be out there to play.

"I have the mindset like I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter."

But he made it clear he's content to be the backup and soak everything up from a master.

"I'm going to go in there and you have to make yourself better first," he said. "By making yourself better, that's how you make your team better.

"That's what I'm going in there to do."

Garoppolo was 10 when he watched Brady lead the Patriots to a dramatic Super Bowl XXXVI upset of the St. Louis Rams.

Garoppolo said he's never met Brady, "but I'm looking forward to it."

The 6-2, 226-pound Garoppolo broke many of Tony Romo's college records and passed for 5,050 yards last season with 53 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

With his lightning-quick release, Garoppolo rocketed up draft boards following an MVP showing at the East-West Shrine game, and strong performances at the NFL Scouting Combine, Senior Bowl and his pro day.

The kid with 118 career touchdowns and 51 interceptions became the first quarterback selected in the first two rounds by the Patriots since Drew Bledsoe was selected first overall in 1993.

"I'm pretty high on Garoppolo, who I had a fringe late second, early third-round grade on," ESPN analyst Todd McShay told USA TODAY Sports. "From his pocket mobility to his accuracy and mental makeup, he has a lot of qualities that you look for in someone to develop at the next level.

"He comes from that Baylor offense and the language doesn't translate very well. As one general manager told me, 'He's going to have to learn a new language.' "

VIDEO: Day 2 recap

USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell highlighted the 49ers' moves and running backs flying off the board as the big stories of the NFL draft's second day.

Garoppolo is the highest drafted player out of Eastern Illinois, a Football Championship Subdivision school that has also produced former NFL coach Mike Shanahan, current New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and Romo, who went undrafted.

"He's not a finished product," former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. "Garoppolo is going to have some growing to do because of the system he comes from. But he's a big, sharp prospect that I know a lot of people like.

"Where Garoppolo jumped out most at me was in the East West practices and the Senior Bowl. I think he looked like he belonged. When I met Jimmy, I met a very sharp, eager young prospect that has size. Garoppolo has improved tremendously over his last two seasons."

And he'll have the chance to improve exponentially working with Brady and Belichick.

When former Patriots defensive end Willie McGinest announced the pick, he told Garoppolo something the kid took to heart.

"He told me that the Patriots are a blue-collar organization, so you have to get to work immediately,'' Garoppolo said. "I was born and raised that way. So I'll have no problem with that."

VIDEO: Day 2 winners and losers

USA TODAY Sports' Chris Strauss outlines who improved and who's trending downward on Friday at the NFL draft.

79 14 3 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1l0Cme4