Move over Johnny: Coach says Garoppolo would've started at A&M

Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo is the best quarterback in this draft -- at least on tape.

NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, a former NFL general manager, told WDAE-AM in Tampa that Garoppolo "probably is the best player on tape" among the quarterbacks in this draft. While noting that Garoppolo's level of competition was "way below everybody else," Casserly also said Garoppolo has the best release in the draft.

But Casserly also said Garoppolo -- who was the FCS player of the year and threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013 -- was "totally raw" and teams would have to "start from scratch on him." And despite his praise of Garoppolo, Casserly said UCF's Blake Bortles was the No. 1 quarterback on his draft board.

Garoppolo's college coach, Dino Babers, doesn't have any reservations.

"Everybody's going to figure out real quick how good this young man is," Babers told CBS Sports Radio.

Babers, who was hired as Bowling Green's coach in January, said Garoppolo has "one of the fastest releases I've probably seen (since) Dan Marino" and that Garoppolo would have been the starter at Texas A&M.

Consider most of that to be "I was his coach and he is great" hyperbole. Yes, Garoppolo has an extremely quick release. But comparing him to Marino? And saying Garoppolo would've beaten out Johnny Manziel? It's one thing to light up the likes of San Diego State, Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State, as Garoppolo did. It's another thing to light up SEC defenses, as Manziel did for two seasons.

The bottom line is that Garoppolo is an intriguing prospect, and he is making the rounds with numerous team visits. Given the need for quarterbacks throughout the league, it seems likely that he goes in the second round, and he surely will be off the board by the end of the third round.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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