The Jacksonville Jaguars had been talking about trying to pick up a quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft, as someone who could backup current quarterback David Garrard, and possibly be developed into a future franchise quarterback. However, most were taken by surprise when the Jaguars traded their 2011 second round pick, as well as the 16th overall pick with the Washington Redskins, in order to obtain the 10th pick overall they needed to ensure they would get their hands on Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert, a quarterback out of the fast paced, spread Missouri offense, had quickly risen up in terms of draft stock in the weeks leading up to the draft, but do fans and team ownership really plan on there being a quarterback controversy in Jacksonville this year? The short answer is no – barring any significant injury to Garrard, or Garrard’s seriously tanking – he will not be competing for the starting quarterback position in Jacksonville this season.
Admittedly, the Missouri style of offense is quite different from NFL-style football, but Jacksonville was probably the best place for him as they tend to run shotgun, pass heavy-style offenses, and he will likely have an easier time making that transition given his history of gameplay experience. However, even after Gabbert was drafted, all intentions have been to have him get practice time in the pre-season, and learn the ropes for a year or two. They do see him as the franchise quarterback of the future of the organization, but the time to have a changing of the guard is probably not the 2011 season.
This doesn’t even take into account that Jacksonville now has 3 truly viable quarterback options in Garrard, Gabbert, and Luke McCown. This means that Gabbert is really going to have to earn that starting spot, and it also means that Garrard is going to be on the proverbial hot seat, because if the kid outshines him, there is that possibility that he could be benched part way through the season. There are rumors floating around that Garrard is not expected to be the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars next year, but all talk, even since the draft selection, has indicated that Garrard will be the starter and Gabbert will be the backup.
There is a chance that he could earn the starting job if he really stands out in practices and pre-season play, but he has two viable competitors in Garrard and McCown. And the latter actually have NFL playing experience. No matter how good you are, there will be a learning curve due to the intensity and speed of the game at that professional level. Should Garrard go down, or perform very poorly, the Jags could make the decision to have McCown as their starter with Gabbert backing him up, or vice versa. However, as things stand now, I do believe that the plans are for Gabbert to learn the “ropes” of professional football, see what he can do on the field, and eventually become the franchise quarterback for the organization.