Third of a six-part series
Each day during the Scouting Combine through Tuesday, we'll feature Nolan Nawrocki's in-depth scouting report of a top draft prospect.
QB Blaine Gabbert, #11 (Junior)
Missouri | Grade: 6.35
Ht: 6-4 3/8 | Wt: 234 | Sp: 4.63 | Arm: 33 | Hand: 10
Notes: Highly recruited Missouri prep who also played baseball. Limited to a handful of games his senior season due to foot and shoulder injuries. Originally committed to Nebraska and then-head coach Bill Callahan before the coach's termination prompted Gabbert to choose MU. As a true freshman in 2008, completed 5-of-13 pass attempts (38.5 percent) for 43 yards without a touchdown or interception in five games while serving as a backup to Chase Daniel. Despite sustaining a severe high right ankle sprain against Nebraska in Week Four, started all 13 games and passed 262-445-3,593-24-9 (58.9). Was involved in a fight outside a Columbia pizza parlor in February 2010 that left his brother, Tyler, with a broken nose, although no arrests were made. Started all 13 games in '10 and produced 301-475-3,186-16-9 (63.4). Left the Colorado contest in the third quarter with a hip pointer. Gained 899 yards (458 net) on 221 career carries with eight touchdowns. Has 18-8 career starting record.
Positives: Extremely well-built with terrific weight-room strength. Has outstanding arm talent and a very rapid release — can throw from a wide variety of angles, manipulate his arm and throwing platform and generate great velocity with quick arm action. Can hasten his arm and feet, change speeds on the ball and deliver it from a multitude of angles. Gauges the velocity of the ball and can throw with touch and placement. Picks apart zone coverage and processes triangle reads. Whips the ball around and throw BBs. Good timing and anticipation. Outstanding escapability in the face of the rush and is very accurate and comfortable throwing on the move — extremely accurate throwing to his right. Highly athletic and can extend plays with his feet. Mentally tough — has shown he will keep battling through severe pain (shoulder and hip injuries). Charted at 60 percent converting on third downs in three games and consistently sustained drives and moved the chains with his arm and legs. Operated very well within Missouri's system. Extremely smart, hardworking, highly competitive team player with a strong grasp of football concepts. More passionate about wins than any other stat. Loaded with upside.
Negatives: Often uses a sidearm, three-quarters delivery. Worked exclusively out of the shotgun with pre-determined reads, and panic quickly set in when his primary read was covered. Loses poise — does not like to be hit and often sets deep in the pocket and flicks the ball or takes off running early at the hint of pressure. Footwork will require some overhauling. Often bird-dogs his primary target and too often drops his eyes and vacates the pocket prematurely. Really struggled against Nebraska when he was consistently pressured and can be rattled under duress. Does not take many shots downfield and showed marginal deep accuracy (0-for-5) in three games charted. Still raw, inexperienced and underdeveloped.
Summary: Was handcuffed by an average supporting cast that did not showcase his immense talents and while he would have benefited from increased snaps at the college level, he clearly possesses long-term starter potential. Will need to learn how to manage, call and check into the run game and develop more sophistication with a pro-style passing tree. Is not a plug-and-play, Day One starter but clearly has phenomenal upside and the football intelligence to learn quickly.
NFL projection: Top-10 pick.
Nolan Nawrocki's 2011 Draft Preview book, with scouting reports on approximately 500 prospects, will go on sale March 29 at bookstores everywhere. It also can be preordered at PFWstore.com either individually or as part of a combo-pack with the 2011 Draft Guide magazine, which goes on sale March 1.