Friday, May 27, 2011

Why I don't like Blaine Gabbert

Before you wonder, no, I haven't skipped the Rams, the NFC North and East and gone straight to the Jaguars. I just want to clarify a point about why I don't like Blaine Gabbert despite his impressive college numbers and the fact that every NFL analyst on the planet has been creaming their pants over Gabbert.

There are two main reasons I don't like him, one of which will help lead into the other;

1) I sat down with a pencil and paper (remember those lead things from 20th Century?) and took notes while watching a Missouri game. I counted about 59 passes (I think one might have been called back for a penalty, didn't pay enough attention). Of the 59 passes I have, three were screen plays, two were chuck aways, and critically for this segment, forty-one were passes that travelled equal to or less than 10 yards past the line scrimmage. Thirteen went 10+ yards.

That means that despite his impressive passing numbers on paper for that game, Gabbert only threw about 20% of his passes anything more than a handful of "air" yards. Of those 13 passes only seven were completed. That for me is an issue. I accept it was only one game, but it is a reasonably fair representation of the offense Gabbert played in.

Small ball, is the word I would use. Of the 41 passes that travelled less than ten yards, 29 were completed and they took the form of a collection of quick outs and sometimes drag routes across the field. All in all a very limited range of passes and nothing that was particularly taxing. Compare with the types of throws asked of guys like Mallet, Enderle and Stanzi in college, which offer a much better approximation of what they'll see in the NFL.

I just don't trust Gabbert to convert very well. The range of passes he has been asked to throw in college compares poorly with what the Jaguars will ask of him. I haven't seen any of the dig routes for example that teams in the NFL like to make plenty of use of. No post-corner routes. And very little in the way of fades.

I just don't see how Gabbert can be considered a franchise QB at the NFL level? It'll take all the franchises resources just to teach him the bloody offense. His accuracy down the field is highly questionable. and the plethora of short routes that he was asked to throw in college lead me to the next point.

2) Gabbert will probably collapse in the face of pressure in the NFL. Very rarely did I see him stand in the pocket and let routes develop down field. Everything was coming out of his hands as quick as a flash. On the few occasions that he did try and hold the ball, he almost immediately bailed out of the pocket and ran for his life, even if it was just a three man rush.

He just seems to have zero experience of standing up to a proper rush. The fact that Missouri spent so much time in 5 wide sets doesn't help. He's used to having the defense clearly laid out for him where he can make easy reads and easy choices.

Do I blame Gabbert for this? No. His coaches maybe? No, their job (what the colleges pay them big bucks for) is to win college games, not serve as a player factory for the Pro's.

The people then that I blame are the people putting Gabbert up there on the pedestal as the number one QB in the 2011 draft class, because I don't think he's anything near that. With time he can improve and get used to the way the big leagues work. He might even carve out a career for himself, in whatever shape or form that may be.

But to tout him as a franchise QB at all, let alone a day one franchise kid, is a big mistake in my opinion.

P.S. Rams draft post will probably touchdown (see what I did there?) on Saturday.
P.P.S. See the labels at the bottom. Just above that is a little "f" icon. Click it. Trust me it'll make your day.

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