In preparation for the 2011 NFL Draft I am re-posting some content I have submitted to various sites for draft coverage. My apologies if you have already read this article elsewhere. This is for archival purposes. This has been updated to better enhance the experience on CFBExaminer.com.
This year’s NFL draft may not be particularly strong in the quarterback department, but that may just play in Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s favor.
Gabbert decided to forgo his senior season with the Tigers and enter the NFL draft. Many feel that he may be the top quarterback selected in the NFL draft, which includes Auburn’s Cam Newton, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, Washington’s Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet from Arkansas and more. If Cam Newton is not drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the first pick, Gabbert could certainly be the first player behind center to be drafted despite being less decorated a passer as some of the other quarterbacks in the draft.
Gabbert received nothing more than an honorable mention in the All-Big 12 football honors at the end of November but Gabbert’s record speaks for itself. In two full seasons as the Missouri quarterback, Gabbert has thrown for 6,779 yards and 40 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 62 percent with 18 interceptions. With Gabbert as a starting quarterback Missouri went 18-8 in the past two seasons, which included wins against Oklahoma and Texas A&M this past season. An argument could easily be made that these numbers are on par with every other quarterback being hyped entering next week’s NFL draft, and in some cases, it is clear that Gabbert has an edge in some statistical categories.
A number of teams need a quarterback in the NFL draft, although nobody seems to be terribly excited about any of the options. Steve Wyche, Senior Writer for NFL.com, still believes Gabbert will be a top-five pick in the draft but wonders why there is not much buzz about him this close to the event.
“The people in the league who I’ve spoken to about Gabbert generally have positive things to say and think he’s going to be good as a starter for a long time,” Wyche writes. “Then again, none of these people has been blown away by what they’ve seen on film, either.”
And that is the problem with Gabbert. There is nothing dazzling about him.
Gabbert finished 11th in the nation in pass completions (301), and outside the top 20 in just about every other major passing statistic there is in college football including passing touchdowns, completion percentage, passing yards, yards per attempt and efficiency. In a pass-heavy Big 12 Gabbert was in the middle of the pack in passing yards, completions, efficiency and more. The highest Gabbert finished in the Big 12 in any passing category tracked by College Football Reference was fourth with 575 pass attempts.
Gabbert has also been a tad inconsistent against quality opponents.
After rising to national prominence in a win over top-ranked Oklahoma, Gabbert struggled against Nebraska, completing 18-of-42 passes for 199 yards and throwing an interception. Gabbert helped the Tigers stun the nation’s top-ranked team a week earlier by throwing for 308 yards and a touchdown, while completing 30-of-42 passes against the Sooners. That came a week after throwing for 361 yards and three touchdowns against Texas A&M.
In bowl games, Gabbert put up huge numbers with 434 yards against Iowa in the Insight Bowl last season, but he was intercepted twice by the Hawkeyes. Gabbert and Missouri also lost a 2009 Texas Bowl matchup against Navy.
The silence in the NFL draft talk on the internet and in the media could mean a couple of possibilities for Gabbert. One reason could be that there is a great amount of interest but NFL franchises are opting to remain quiet on their intentions as the days creep toward the NFL draft. The other possibility is that the hype for Gabbert was premature and is fading for a reason.
Gabbert may be the best all-around quarterback in this year’s NFL draft, but that certainly does not make him a sure-fire franchise quarterback. With this year’s depth available through the draft though, Gabbert still would be likely to be gone within the first 10 picks of the draft.
Will he be the first quarterback selected?
Teams in the top 10 in need of a quarterback include the Carolina Panthers (first overall), Buffalo Bills (third), Cincinnati Bengals (fourth), Arizona Cardinals (fifth), San Francisco 49ers (seventh), Tennessee Titans (eighth) and Washington Redskins (10th).
Should Gabbert fall past Washington, there is a good chance he may be available in the second round for any of these teams who passed on him in the first round, but that does not appear to be the most likely scenario for Gabbert. Many still predict he will be gone early on in the draft.
Gabbert has accepted an invitation to attend the NFL draft in New York City, beginning April 28th.
This article was originally published by Bleacher Report.