Jimmy Garoppolo may not have expected to be drafted by the New England Patriots. Now that he has been, he’s ready to learn how to take his game to the next level.

Speaking late Friday after he was selected -– surprisingly – in the second round, Garoppolo said he “couldn’t have pictured it any better.’’

The former Eastern Illinois quarterback said he is more than willing to sit behind Tom Brady, pick his brains and learn from Coach Bill Belichick.

“I still have a lot to learn and I know that, and I’m excited about it,’’ he said.

Brady, he said, was his favorite player growing up. “He was always the guy I emulated my game after,’’ said Garoppolo.

Now he’ll be up close to Brady, who will turn 37 during training camp.


Garoppolo likens his situation to that of Aaron Rodgers, who sat for three seasons behind Brett Favre after being drafted by the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers is now one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL.

“It’s a very similar scenario and it worked out well for Aaron,’’ said Garoppolo. “So hopefully it will work out the same way for me.’’

Garoppolo said former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest, who announced his selection, told him to be ready to work. And he likes that. He got to see some of the way the Patriots operate during a visit.

“They’re a very blue-collar organization,’’ he said. “It seemed like all business and they get to work. That’s what I’m excited about. I’m one of those guys. I’m a blue-collar guy and I go to work every day. That’s what I’m most excited about and it fits my personality very well, so I think it’s a very good fit.’’

And he sounds as if he’s ready to get to work tomorrow.

“I’m going to get an opportunity to learn from … one of the best and also all the good coaches they have out there,’’ he said. “They have an unbelievable coaching staff. There’s a lot for me to learn between now and the beginning of the season, and I’m excited about it.’’

The 6-foot-2, 226-pound Garoppolo had a senior season worth remembering, completing 66 percent of his 568 passes for 5,050 yards, 53 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. He was named the winner of the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in the FCS.

The Patriots also have Ryan Mallett on the roster as a back-up quarterback. His contract expires at the end of the 2014 season.

The Patriots didn’t make a selection in the third round, trading the 93rd overall pick to Jacksonville for a fourth- and a sixth-rounder. Saturday will be a busy day for New England, with three picks in each of the fourth and sixth rounds, and one in the seventh.

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