2011 NFL Draft Order: Predicting Where Blaine Gabbert Could Go (If He Comes Out Early)

We know now the order of teams picking int the 2011 NFL Draft as we await Blaine Gabbert's decision to go pro or stay in Missouri.

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2011 NFL Draft Order: Who Needs QB Blaine Gabbert?

The interesting part of the 2011 NFL draft order is complete -- the non-playoff team part. We know the top 20 in the 2011 NFL draft order but the NFL playoff picture will decide how No. 21-32 round out. But we do know that the Carolina Panthers have the top pick in the draft while the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills follow them. The top five is rounded out by the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. 

Missouri Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert has been called a first round pick, if he decides to leave Mizzou early, and some analysts even have him as the second ranked quarterback behind Standford QB Andrew Luck. So where will Gabbert go? I'm having trouble finding many teams at the top that need a quarterback.

The Panthers recently drafted Jimmy Clausen and would take Luck first. The Broncos invested a first round pick in Tim Tebow. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a solid year in Buffalo and even got some Pro Bowl votes. The Bengals still have Carson Palmer and Arizona has John Skelton and Max Hall, while Cleveland invested a third round pick in Colt McCoy. The 49ers are certainly looking for a quarterback and it's possible the Titans are, too. The Cowboys aren't looking for a quarterback but the Redskins are.

The Redskins would be the perfect scenario for Blaine Gabbert. He would be going to Mike Shanahan, who has done a solid job with quarterbacks in his day, and with Donovan McNabb likely leaving there wouldn't be much competition for him.

Of course a million things change between now and the 2011 NFL draft in April. There's the all-star games, the combine, interviews and workouts with the teams, free agency and all sorts of things that will make a player rise a round or two or drop a round or two.

Here's the NFL draft order as we know it:

1. Carolina (2-14)
2. Denver (4-12)
3. Buffalo (4-12)
4. Cincinnati (4-12)
5. Arizona (5-11)
6. Cleveland (5-11)
7. San Francisco (6-10)
8. Tennessee (6-10)
9. Dallas (6-10)
10. Washington (6-10)
11. Houston (6-10)
12. Minnesota (6-10)
13. Detroit (6-10)
14. Miami (7-9)
15. St. Louis (7-9)
16. Jacksonville (8-8)
17. Oakland (8-8)
18. San Diego (9-7)
19. New York Giants (10-6)
20. Tampa Bay (10-6)    


Major Needs At Quarterback Among NFL Bottom Feeders Should Elevate Blaine Gabbert's Status

The NFL Draft is the primary focus for approximately half of the NFL at this point in the season. As those teams specifically get ready, an inordinate number are most likely focusing on one primary position: the quarterback. That bodes well for players possibly entering the draft with promising stock like Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.

More than ever, teams realize that everything rises and falls with the quarterback. Look at the NFC West for the best example. San Francisco has possible Pro Bowlers at several key positions, and every football expert said they would run away with the division. There was only one larger question mark: the quarterback spot with Alex Smith as the incumbent. The end result: Head Coach Mike Singletary is fired before season's end and the team loses a season where veterans get one year older.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams were starting Year Two of a long rebuilding process. After all, the dearth of talent on both sides of the ball was widely noted outside of Steven Jackson. A promising draft brought high draft picks like Sam Bradford and Rodger Saffold, but no one expected the final results. In the end, however, Sam Bradford is hoping to carry his team to a division title this weekend. It's all about the quarterback, in other words.

One look at the top tier of teams choosing in the draft showcase a wasteland at the most important spot. The Panthers, Cardinals, Bengals, 49ers, Redskins, Browns, Vikings and Seahawks should all be considering a first-round quarterback addition, and any PR spin that says they aren't is either lying or delusional. Perhaps the Bills really have something with Ryan Fitzpatrick, but do you take that chance? I don't.

This draft class also looks rather stocked, especially if the kids like Andrew Luck from Stanford and Gabbert come out. They'll team with Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, Auburn's Cam Newton and Washington's Jake Locker to form a likely Top 5 QB prospects come draft time. Imagine the trading and posturing that will ensue once the draft starts and the teams stop blowing smoke to hide their true opinions. The results will be fun to watch, for sure, and for a prospect like Gabbert, he will likely reap the rewards.


2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert's Post-Game Comments Suggest He's Staying At Missouri

Take this for what it's worth but following the Missouri Tigers Insight Bowl loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Tuesday night (actually, Wednesday morning), QB Blaine Gabbert talked as if he were returning to Mizzou next year and not entering the 2011 NFL draft. Via Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune:

Gabbert: We're going to have one helluva team next year. ... People should watch out for us next year.

Matter says you probably shouldn't read too much into his comments and I agree. Whether he's staying or going, comments within a half-hour of your team's loss in a bowl game are emotion-based. Gabbert said last week he hasn't made up his mind yet.

January 15 is the key date for Gabbert because that's the deadline for the NFL's early entry for underclassmen. Gabbert has submitted his name to the draft advisory board and they'll come back and tell him where they can project him playing.

Remember, the draft advisory board is the best "mock draft" for him. The media is often wrong about these sorts of things. For example, last year Todd McShay, who currently has Gabbert ranked as his No. 2 QB, suggested Jake Locker should have come out because he would have been a candidate for the No. 1 pick. The problem? The draft advisory board reportedly had a second round grade on him. So just because me, or Matt Millen, or Todd McShay say he's a first round pick doesn't make it fact.


2011 NFL Draft: Did Blaine Gabbert's Insight Bowl Performance Change Anything?

The Missouri Tigers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 2010 Insight Bowl in a game that featured QB Blaine Gabbert showing off his skills only to throw an interception later that ended up costing Mizzou the game. Gabbert's stock in the 2011 NFL draft definitely did something after this performance -- I'm just not sure what.

Throughout the game the announcers Sean McDonough and Matt Millen were gushing over Gabbert from his size to his brains to his decision-making -- they liked what Gabbert was throwing out there. And how could you not? He came out firing starting the game 8-of-9 at one point and ended with nearly 300 yards before halftime. There were times on Tuesday night in the Insight Bowl that I thought this guy should be the No. 1 pick. He has the ability to look that good.

He ended the day completing 41-of-57 passes for 434 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions (and a rushing touchdown).

Of course, a couple of minutes after Millen predicted the NFL draft advisory committee will issue Gabbert a high first round pick grade, he throws an interception in the end zone (the first one, which wasn't completely his fault).

And, of course, Gabbert threw a pick to Micah Hyde with about five and a half minutes remaining that was returned for a 72-yard touchdown and was eventually the difference in the Tigers 27-24 loss. The second interception was all on Gabbert and it was just a bad decision. No other way around it.

So while I love most of his performance, it's hard to ignore that mistake.

The ESPN announcers said there were several GMs in the house and I imagine at least a few of them had eyes on Gabbert and noticed what he was able to do. I think his stock rises after this game because mistakes will happen but 6'4", accurate and smart won't always happen.


2011 NFL Draft: Will Insight Bowl Performance Affect Mizzou's Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith?

Two of the most high-profile names on the Missouri Tigers roster that will contemplate jumping to the 2011 NFL draft are QB Blaine Gabbert and DE Aldon Smith. For Gabbert, the reasons are obvious including his size, accuracy and experience. For Smith, his athleticism and versatility is among his top attributes.

As we often see, a bowl game can help a player make up his mind on whether to go pro or not. A solid performance and you could catapult yourself into the NFL draft talk, such as JaMarcus Russell's Sugar Bowl performance a few years ago.

Would a big game by Gabbert and/or Smith help them make the decision to go pro? It's hard to say that it won't because momentum is a factor here. Some talent evaluators on the fence about both players may see a big performance from them in the Insight Bowl that pushes them over the edge into believing they can succeed at the next level. Likewise, a bad game can push them down the list.

Teams like to see how players will perform when the spotlight is on them. That'll be the case Tuesday evening when ESPN airs the Insight Bowl between Mizzou and Iowa.

Who knows what a big game would do for each of them. They'll need to make their decision on early-entry by the middle of January.


2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert, Aldon Smith Are Still Undecided

The Missouri Tigers could be seeing a pair of key players exiting for the 2011 NFL draft.

Or they might not.

QB Blaine Gabbert and DE Aldon Smith both downplayed rumors that they'd be putting their names in the draft. Though both have submitted their names to the NFL draft advisory board, they haven't made their decisions.

Smith's NFL draft rumor came in the last week but he says he's made no decisions yet.

"Somebody brought that to my attention, and I’ve never said anything like that," Smith said. "But that’s just life. It’s no big deal."

And Gabbert's NFL future has yet to be decided either as we see speculation on his future rise.

"Rumors are going to be spread around. One word can trigger a forest fire. That’s just the nature of the beast. You just have to worry about your business. And I can tell you, Aldon and mine, this team’s focus, is on winning this bowl game," Gabbert said.

If they're going to be first round picks, I think it's a no-brainer. Someone like Smith may seem some more competition with a deep class of defensive ends but, for Gabbert, quarterbacks are always in demand and any Mizzou will gladly tell you Gabbert has what it takes.


2011 NFL Draft: Blaine Gabbert Over Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, Says ESPN's Todd McShay

If you believe ESPN's Todd McShay, Missouri Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert is one of the best in the country. In fact, the second best. McShay has Gabbert ranked behind Andrew Luck in the 2011 NFL draft of all quarterbacks. In his overall rankings, Gabbert is No. 20 followed by Washington QB Jake Locker (No. 23), Auburn QB Cam Newton (No. 29) and Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett (No. 31).

There are a few reasons he's in this position:

Size: He's 6'4" and has a strong arm. Size isn't an issue. It's sort of like Chase Daniel with size. For most QBs, that's the hurdle -- are you big and strong enough? Gabbert passes that test.

Experience: He's had two years starting and put up solid numbers both years (better in year one).

The problem is that Gabbert hasn't even made up his mind yet. He'll get looked over by the draft advisory board -- their suggestions come from teams themselves so they probably hold more weight -- and if it's a high grade, like first round, then he'll have a tough decision to make.

Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel has indicated that anyone with a first round grade should probably go ahead and declare. We'll see if McShay's prediction is on but I can see some reasons Gabbert is well-liked.

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