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Mel Kiper Not Buying Blaine Gabbert In 2011 NFL Draft

Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert is considered by nearly everyone to be one of the top two quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL draft. He's expected to be a top 10 pick and potentially as high as No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers. We have over three weeks until we find out which way Carolina will go but ESPN's Mel Kiper is putting the finishing touches on his latest 2011 NFL mock draft and he tells Peter King of SI.com that he's not buying Gabbert as a legit top quarterback -- at least not yet.

"Blaine Gabbert. Lotta people comparing him to Drew Bledsoe coming out, but I don't see it. I'm not buying into Gabbert. I know he runs a 4.65 at 6-5 and 235, and I give him credit for doing it with a poor receiving corps, but I think he's shaky."

There are question marks with Gabbert, like there are everyone else. What Gabbert has, many NFL folks feel, is the intangibles to rise to the next level. He may not have been as successful as Auburn QB Cam Newton last year but there are reasons to think he improves.

Still, Kiper points to what Gabbert did in college -- or, more accurately, what he didn't do -- as reasons for him slowing down the Gabbert train.

"You realize he completed only 38 percent of his throws 15 yards [and farther] downfield? And he was only 44 percent on third down, with six touchdowns and five interceptions? You know what Andrew Luck was on third down last year? Seventy-one percent. [Gabbert will] go in the top five, but I've got him down past 10 -- not exactly sure where right now. Still finalizing that. But he and Newton will be around 12, 13 for me."

It's April 4. In 24 days, we'll find out exactly what NFL people feel about Gabbert.