Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Tigers
Height: 6'4 3/8"
Gabbert has the type of frame that makes NFL scouts fall in love with a player. He's big and durable, as proven by him toughing out a hip pointer injury during the middle of the season and never missing a start in his senior year. Also, when Gabbert gets into the open field, he can easily pick up a first down with his legs.
Gabbert's biggest mechanical flaws are that he pushes the ball at times, and doesn't have good footwork. He definitely has "happy feet" when under pressure, and does not step up in the pocket. While he has good straight-line speed, his poor acceleration and change of direction negate that because he gets brought down before he can get into the open field. His deep passes travel slowly, giving defenders time to get to the ball, and taking away the deep passing game.
Gabbert abandons the pocket too soon and tends to hold onto the ball for too long waiting for his top receiver to get open, instead of moving to his next read. He is definitely a one-read quarterback, which should worry scouts a little bit. While he plays well when the play goes right, he loses composure when something unexpected happens. In the NFL, the play is almost never going to go completely according to plan, so this is going to be a problem. Missouri's passing offense frequently sputtered to a halt in goal-line situations because Gabbert struggled with quickly reading the defense and getting it into small windows. His first interception in the Insight Bowl, which came at the end of the first half, typified his red-zone struggles. In addition to struggling with fitting the ball into tight windows, Gabbert lacks the instincts and awareness to see the whole field and know what's going on around him, as evidenced by this sack where he never saw the blitzing defender coming from his right side.
Missouri's running game was based on the zone read, and Gabbert frequently struggled with making the correct read. For this reason, Missouri fans often had to watch a ball-carrier get stuffed behind the line of scrimmage while a hole was wide open on the other side of the field. If Gabbert can't even read the defense on a zone read, this does not bode well for his ability to read an NFL defense. Despite throwing for over 3,000 yards, Gabbert only tossed 16 touchdowns. That means his team couldn't finish drives. To outsiders unfamiliar with Missouri's running game, it is easy to say "Gabbert had a bad run game" to justify the stalled drives that plagued the Tigers last season. However, to those familiar with the zone reads that are a staple of Missouri's offense, it should be apparent that Gabbert's poor decision-making was a major cause of the run game's struggles.
Potential NFL Team, Round
If I were a G.M. I wouldn't go anywhere near Gabbert with a first- or second-round pick. His game has too many flaws for him to be effective as an immediate starter. He is a project player who needs at least two years behind a solid veteran before he can play well in the NFL. However, some team will likely fall in love with him for two reasons: his size and the hype that's been built around him. Also, a ton of teams need a quarterback this offseason and very few good ones are available. For this reason, all quarterbacks' values are going to be inflated. The only teams in the top ten who don't need a quarterback are the Devnver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, and, arguably, the Buffalo Bills. With so many teams desperate for a quarterback, there's no way Gabbert falls past the Vikings with the 12th pick, even though his talent and potential is nowhere near worthy of such a high selection.
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