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NFL DRAFT | QUARTERBACKS

Is the next Jimmy Garoppolo available in this NFL Draft?

Kyle Lauletta had to play in different offensive systems at Richmond.
Kyle Lauletta had to play in different offensive systems at Richmond.daniel lin/AP

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The comparisons to a certain ex-Patriots quarterback were inevitable.

Kyle Lauletta is this year’s Jimmy Garoppolo, the draftniks say, pointing to the signal-callers’ commonalities.

They’re similar in stature (Lauletta is 6 feet 3 inches, 215 pounds while Garoppolo is 6-2, 220). Both are known for their textbook footwork and lightning-quick releases. Both dominated at the FCS level (Lauletta at Richmond, Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois). And both started soaring up draft boards following eye-opening all-star games (Lauletta at the Senior Bowl, Garoppolo at the East-West Shrine Game).

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“I’ve watched [Garoppolo] quite a bit — I definitely see some similarities,’’ Lauletta said at the NFL Combine. “He has quick feet. He’s accurate. He’s an outstanding leader, from the sound bites I’ve seen.

Related: Why the NFL Draft isn’t as important as it used to be

“As a quarterback, you have to be a great communicator, and Jimmy is a great communicator. It just seems like he has a mojo to him, a little bit of a swagger to him that is infectious. He’s a player I’d love to model my game around.’’

But it’s another of Lauletta’s qualities — and another quarterback — that may make for a better point of comparison.

Lauletta’s ability to stay calm despite storms brewing all around his pocket is not only impressive, it’s downright Tom Brady-like.

He gave a glimpse of this in 2016 when, in a stunning upset, he torched Virginia for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener.

Lauletta opened more eyes at the Senior Bowl, when, after a solid week of practice (and overcoming a nasty stomach virus), he collected the game’s MVP award. Running the South’s offense throughout the second half, he completed 8 of 12 passes for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 45-16 rout.

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Related: Who are the bigger difference-makers, wide receivers or tight ends?

Lauletta’s game is predicated on precision passing, and there may not be a quarterback in this draft more adept at putting his receivers in a position to succeed. His timing and accuracy are such that he leads receivers beautifully, delivering balls in stride and setting them up to make tons of yards after the catch.

His ability to stay patient as he reads through his progressions is as good as any quarterback in this class. And his solid decision-making (73 TDs vs. 35 INTs in 40 games) is something every NFL team values.

The big knocks against Lauletta are arm strength, lack of snaps under center, and level of competition. He addressed all three in Mobile.

He looked right at home alongside FBS guys, fired a 75-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Chark in the third quarter, and pulled off a couple of nice play-action fakes as well.

“Being an FCS guy, anytime you can get on a platform where you’re playing with the best players in the entire country, that’s what you play for. That’s what you live for,’’ Lauletta said. “I went into the Senior Bowl just trying to make the most of my opportunity, and I think I did that.’’

Lauletta has had to make substantial adjustments during his five years at Richmond. He played under four different offensive coordinators, and after playing in a pro-style offense his first three seasons, the Spiders switched to a spread attack last year.

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The change didn’t faze Lauletta in the least. He embraced and thrived in offensive coordinator Jeff Durden’s system, throwing for a career-high and Colonial Athletic Conference-high 3,737 yards and 28 TDs.

“It was a blessing in disguise for me, no doubt, as a quarterback, being forced to adapt and learn a playbook quickly,’’ said Lauletta, who didn’t have the benefit of spring practice as he rehabbed a torn ACL. “As far as learning new terminology, I had seen the same formations for four straight years be named four different things. The same goes with the passing concepts.

“That’s very similar to what’s going to happen in my transition to the NFL. So, having already been through that the past four years is great for me and already puts me at an advantage.’’

Will his next transition begin at One Patriot Place?

It has been suggested by many prognosticators that Lauletta’s combination of physical skills and football acumen make him a perfect fit in Foxborough. Like Garoppolo, he could slowly and steadily sponge knowledge from Josh McDaniels and Brady.

“That would be a dream come true,’’ said Lauletta. “I think any quarterback would love to be in that position. Learning from a guy like Tom Brady, you can learn so much just by the way he works and observing the way he goes about his business day to day.

“Wherever I am, I think I’ll be in a good spot. But that would definitely be a good one.’’

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There are other reasons that Lauletta might fit in quite nicely in Foxborough.

First off, he has Naval Academy bloodlines.

Lauletta’s father, Joe, played quarterback for the Midshipmen in the mid 1980s — when Steve Belichick was still on he staff — and it helped shape how he raised Kyle.

“A lot of discipline,’’ Kyle said. “My parents were tough on me growing up. I learned a lot about the Naval Academy and what it means to be in the Navy. That’s a great influence right there.

“I’ve visited Annapolis a few times and really admire the people who have served our country. Having my dad be one of those guys . . . he was my role model growing up.’’

Lauletta not only comes from a Navy family, he comes from a lacrosse family, as well. A big lacrosse family, as he described it. In fact, Lauletta contemplated playing the sport in college but couldn’t give up on his football dream despite not being heavily recruited.

“I was very serious about lacrosse,” said Lauletta, who would have no shortage of guys to pass and cradle with at Gillette Stadium, including Chris Hogan and the entire Belichick clan. “It’s a sport I had played since I was a little kid.

“A lot of lacrosse skills translate to the football field. Change of direction and toughness. I think I’ve got a few of those skills from that sport, too.”

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He chose football, he said, because “it was just the team aspect, the camaraderie. It’s the greatest game in the world in my opinion. I just gravitated to the culture.’’

Now he’s hoping to gravitate to the culture of the NFL, and New England seems as likely a landing spot as any.

The top quarterbacks in this year’s draft

PLAYER

SCHOOL

HEIGHT

WEIGHT

40 TIME

ROUND

Sam Darnold*

Southern Cal.

6-3

220

4.85

1

A deceptively athletic guy with a big arm, he finished his career with perhaps his two best games (Pac-12 title tilt and Rose Bowl victories). Turnovers (37 in 26 games) were a problem for this laidback dude.

Josh Allen*

Wyoming

6-5

233

4.75

1

A big, strapping lad with an arm to match. Stands tall in the pocket and will step up and deliver strikes to every level of the defense. Struggled some against better competition and has had some injuries.

Baker Mayfield

Oklahoma

6-1

215

4.84

1

This feisty little bugger (comparatively speaking) may be the most NFL-ready of the bunch. Has a ton of experience and isn't easily rattled. Hums accurate darts from the pocket or on the run.

Josh Rosen*

UCLA

6-4

226

4.92

1

A very durable player; started all 30 games of his Bruins career. He may look like a surfer dude but he's a very smart player who processes information and hits targets quickly. Threw for more than 400 yards five times last season.

Lamar Jackson*

Louisville

6-3

200

4.55

1-2

Ultra-athletic dual threat. Threw for 3,660 yards and 27 TDs and rushed for 1,601 yards and 18 TDs in 2017. Will need some apprenticeship time (two seasons?) to sharpen his accuracy and decision-making.

Mason Rudolph

Oklahoma St.

6-5

235

4.90

1-2

Looks the part of a prototypical NFL pocket passer with excellent size, a quick release, and a powerful arm. Probably the first QB plucked in a lot of other years. He'll force some throws but isn't overly careless with the ball.

Mike White

W. Kentucky

6-4

225

5.09

3-4

A poised player with nice touch and accuracy on short and intermediate throws, though that falls off some on deep balls. White has a nice presence in the pocket and won't make a ton of plays outside it.

Kyle Lauletta

Richmond

6-3

215

4.81

3-4

Smart and savvy signal caller whose stock soared after a strong Senior Bowl week, capped by game MVP honors. Ultra-quick release and tight spirals draw comparisons to Jimmy Garoppolo. That's a good thing.

Luke Falk

Washington St.

6-4

225

5.00

4-5

A cool, calm, and collected customer. Has loads of experience after running Mike Leach's Air Raid attack for three seasons. A TB12 devotee, he threw for 14,486 yards and 119 touchdowns. Like his idol, he's not a threat as a runner.

Riley Ferguson

Memphis

6-4

210

4.98

5-6

A very confident player, he threw for nearly 8,000 yards and 70 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He's nimble in the pocket and buys time with his feet, but his accuracy suffers when he throws on the move.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.