Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is the best quarterback in an Alex Smith like draft. He may not be a franchise quarterback from the very first start, but because of the lack of overall quarterback talent in the draft, and with free agency being delayed, teams may be forced into drafting Gabbert as the savior of their franchise.
Gabbert is an outstanding athlete that shows great leadership and intelligence on the field, but he is inconsistent in his mechanics and doesn’t throw an overly impressive deep ball. I do like the fact that he can make plays with his legs and doesn’t have to have both feet set to get good zip on the ball, but in todays NFL with teams stretching the field vertically, having a better deep ball would definitely make him even more attractive. He does have a slight hitch in his throwing motion that if removed, would allow for a much quicker release of the ball.
Coming from the spread offense, many times, a quarterback is only given a single read or, at the most, two routes to read before pulling it down and running. This is true for Gabbert as well, so him being able to read the defense and go all the way through his route progressions and even dumping the ball off to a check down tight end or running back will be a great maturation in his game. When compared to Cam Newton, who is also drawing attention as the first quarterback to be selected, Gabbert has a total of 933 passing attempts to evaluate on tape to Newton’s 292 (12 of them coming from his time at Florida in 2007 and 2008). Having that bigger body of work, makes me more comfortable in determining how his game will translate to the NFL and deciding if he can make all the NFL style throws.
I have heard other comparing Gabbert to Matt Ryan, but I struggle to crown him franchise ready from day 1 like Matt Ryan was. I think he can get there, but there will be much more of a transition period. Specific to this year’s draft, I do think he is worthy of consideration for the first overall pick, but I think Carolina would be better off going with a defensive stalwart. To me, Gabbert makes most sense at three overall to Buffalo or five to Arizona.