2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert Pro Day Recap and Review

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On Thursday I attended Blain Gabbert's pro day. Rex Ryan's presence at the University of Missouri's pro day must have jinxed Blaine Gabbert's feet....

While media and fans will be sure to hype up Gabbert's strong arm and pinpoint accuracy, I saw a few holes that even Gabbert's favorable pro day script could not hide. The worst of these was his footwork. Gabbert had mediocre footwork in college. Since his pro day workouts, it seems to have gotten even worse. He occasionally left his feet while releasing the ball when dropping back from center, but he very constantly released the football with both feet in the air when he rolled out from under center. When he rolled to the left, he’d occasionally keep his center of gravity too low, and it would look awkward when he straightened up to throw the ball.

Additionally, Gabbert dropped his center of gravity too low on rollouts to the left, which forced him to take longer to throw the football. Although he had a nice spiral and velocity on his passes, he threw them with such a high arc that they sometimes took too long to get to the intended receiver. This is a problem because it gives defenders more time to get to the ball and knock it down. Additionally, on the deep passes, receivers often had to stop to wait.

Gabbert definitely had some areas where he looked really good though. First and most obvious is that you will never have any questions about Gabbert’s arm strength. Also, he has always had good straight-line speed, but that speed was often negated by slow acceleration. Gabbert displayed an improved speed on his rollouts, which suggests he will have an easier time taking off with the ball than he did in college, where he was often brought down before hitting full speed. If he can continue to accelerate well, he could be a Tim Tebow-type runner from the backfield when necessary. However, the Tebow comparisons end there. Gabbert is much more accurate than Tebow was, and throws the ball with a better spiral.

One area in which Gabbert struggled in college that was difficult to assess at the pro day was pocket presence, since there was no pass rush. In college, he still needed drastic improvement in making subtle movements in the pocket with his feet to duck pass-rushers while still remaining in good position to throw the ball. This is something that is mainly an issue of a player’s natural feel for the game, which means it will not be easy to teach Gabbert to improve in this aspect of his game.

At this point, it’s hard to tell if Gabbert will be a good NFL quarterback or not. On one hand, he definitely has all the physical tools to be successful. On the other hand, he definitely does have some bad habits that he probably won’t have time to correct if he goes to a team that is picking highly. If that’s the case, he’ll revert to his bad habits under pressure, which will only reinforce them. It would be best for both Gabbert and the team picking him if he is drafted by a team that can afford to let him sit behind a veteran for a year or two.

On Thursday night, NFL Scout, Jayson Braddock and I hosted Gabbert’s quarterbacks coach, Terry Shea, on NFL Redzone Report, and discussed Gabbert’s strengths and weaknesses.

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Hank Koebler is a Journalist, NFL Writer and NFL On-Air Personality. Hank's writing has been widely published and he's received numerous awards and recognition for his work. You may email Hank @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ HankKoebler

Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & NFL On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock

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