Blaine Gabbert has gained some notoriety now thanks to his declaring for the draft and Andrew Luck staying in school. And while he's been number two on Optimum Scouting's quarterback board all year, he's now on most boards as being in the mix for the Carolina Panthers number one overall and now is battling Ryan Mallett for the top spot at the position.
If you want to have an initial idea about Gabbert's ability and his possible transition to the NFL, look at the quarterback he replaced at Missouri: Chase Daniel.
Daniel was a Heisman trophy finalist in his senior year and one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the past five years. He directed one of the country's best offenses, and his play in the spread and his production lead him to be a late round pick in the NFL Draft despite being under 6'0 tall and not having great arm strength. He still in the NFL, backing up fellow undersized quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans.
When Gabbert took over for Daniel last year, he had some growing pains. He ran a similar offense in high school, but the speed of the defense's in Nebraska and Oklahoma State last year showed his weakness in reading the play quickly and his need to improve his decision making and deep accuracy.
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This season, I expected a huge season for Gabbert and Missouri, but two losses on the road to Nebraska and Texas Tech in which Gabbert did not play well were the difference in giving this team a chance to reach the Big 12 Title game. However, outside of those two losses in which he was lackluster, Gabbert was very accurate, completing over 65% of his passes in five games.
In the bowl game, Gabbert faced Iowa, one of the country's best defenses the country. Gabbert threw two interceptions in the game, but he still showcased his ability. He finished the game 41-57, a 72 percent completion percentage, and showed all the assets of his game. His short, middle range accuracy was impressive, he handled the blitz and pressure of Iowa well for much of the game, and his arm strength to the sideline and touch downfield was very impressive.
Gabbert isn't a finished product, as he'll have to show he can be a drop back passer, he needs to be more consistent, and struggles against great pass rushing talent. But his young offense could be partly to blame this year for his occasional struggles, and his size (6'6, 235), arm strength, touch, and accuracy is the reason he's competing with Mallett and Jake Locker for the top quarterback spot.
He's not as accurate or consistent as Daniel, but if Daniel can make it in the NFL as a backup with his size and arm strength, Gabbert should be able to transition to the NFL from the Missouri offense similarly, and could be a great starting quarterback in the NFL in time.