The 2017 NFL Draft's quarterback class isn't thought to be an especially strong one, and NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly put quite a thumbprint on that narrative Tuesday.
Casserly's initial mock draft projects a trade between the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots that would send QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the quarterback-needy Browns, with the No. 12 overall pick going to the Patriots. Why would Cleveland do that rather than drafting, for instance, Clemson's Deshaun Watson, North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky or Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer? Because -- Casserly told NFL Network's Up to the Minute Live -- Garoppolo is better than all of them.
"I'm not enamored with any of the quarterbacks in this draft, that's No. 1," said Casserly, the former GM of the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins. "No. 2, Garappolo today is better than any quarterback in this draft. Now, he's had three years of experience. You look at him coming out (of college), the guy had a quick release, he's smart, he knows where to go with the ball. The guy is accurate, and he can make some plays on the move. You see all (those things) in the NFL. His deep-ball accuracy, you'd like that (to be) a little bit better."
Garoppolo indeed has been in the NFL for three seasons, but his playing experience doesn't amount to much. He's made two career starts, both of them to begin the 2016 season while Tom Brady served a four-game suspension. Garoppolo led the Patriots to a 2-0 start before suffering an injury, completing 42 of 59 passes for 496 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in wins over the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins.
That's not much of a body of work after three pro seasons, but then again, it's more than what a rookie would bring.
"Garoppolo to me is not a special guy who will just raise the level of everybody around him. Like for example, an (Andrew) Luck. That's a rare guy," Casserly said. "But yet I do think all the characteristics I talked about, the ability to be accurate, get the ball out on time, I think he'll do a great job there."
There is certainly a building consensus that this isn't the draft to find a franchise quarterback. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said last week that he would be "scared to death" to take one in the first 10 picks of the draft, and Kizer -- at No. 18 -- is the highest-ranked QB on NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah's list of the draft's top 50 prospects.
If NFL clubs see things the same way, the trade market for Garoppolo could be all the stronger for it.