Living in Kansas City, I'm inundated with local coverage of the Missouri Tigers football team, including QB Blaine Gabbert. We hear about them daily and because we're close to the situation it's hard to get a read on what the national feel for someone like Gabbert is.
So when Stanford QB Andrew Luck decided to stay in school, shaking up the 2011 NFL draft, I spoke with a couple of non-Kansas City friends (and also college football fans) who didn't know who Gabbert was. Apparently, he's not very well known at all. That's understandable right now. Gabbert wasn't viewed as a high draft pick entering this college football season, he plays in the midwest and his name is not Andrew Luck.
So, I get why folks don't really know him. SB Nation's Spencer Hall, who is apparently like most of the rest of the country in that he wasn't an expert of Gabbert,gave us his general break down of him.
What is this Blaine Gabbert? On the positive side, Gabbert is a junior quarterback with all of the tangibles cookie-cutter pro scouts adore. He stands 6-5, tall enough to scan the field without jumping Flutie-style to read the defense. He has a strong but not awe-inspiring arm, is capable of throwing the deep out, and has nice footwork. He has been durable, displayed the requisite leadership skills as a vocal chieftain of the Tigers team, and had been productive in his two years as a starter. He won 18 games in two years, and had a substantial amount to do with that record.
He has the size, the arm, he's smart and has won a lot of games. Those are huge positives for Gabbert as he enters the 2011 NFL draft. This is what folks will see when you read scouting reports or other stories on Gabbert. People have been pretty consistent with the positives -- size, arm, smart and a winner.
Gabbert does also have a number of potential red flags for scouts. He is coming out as a junior, a move largely considered a no-no for quarterbacks in the draft. He does play in an offense operating out of the shotgun spread, a formation relatively few NFL teams use with any real consistency. He is fond of good food, as evidenced by his Twitter feed, which is good in that he likes to take care of himself, and bad because idiot sportswriters will accuse him of caring more about the quality of his dinner meats than film study after he throws three interceptions in a game his rookie year.
Yep, the biggest red flag is probably his age. The success rates of junior and senior quarterbacks is very different. Junior quarterbacks have a much higher failure rate -- but that's not to say he can't succeed. It's just that history says the odds are stacked against him. The second red flag will be, as Hall noted, the spread offense. I remember reading something that, when the Saints acquired former Mizzou QB Chase Daniel, they didn't use any of his college tape because it just doesn't translate in that spread offense. Those are two big red flags that, whether they mean something or not, will be there as we get closer to the draft.
And, yes, Gabbert does like taking picture of his food on his Twitter account.
As Gabbert starts to become a household name as one of the top 3-4 quarterbacks in this draft, I think you'll find more people that are going to like him. Coming from a good program, good family and with the NFL size, it's hard not to like him.