On Thursday, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call with media to discuss prospects from the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft. Naturally, he spent a great deal of time talking about the quarterbacks - and despite Cameron Newton's buzz, it's Blaine Gabbert that remains atop Mayock's board at that specific position.
Several different outlets covered the conference call, but I'm particularly fond of the way Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel (yeah, he covers the Dolphins - forgive him that minor hiccup, as he's quite good at his job) phrased Mayock's belief that teams shouldn't pass on a franchise quarterback:
"If you believe there’s a franchise quarterback, that trumps every other need," Mayock said, floating that question, statement, THREAT out there about a dozen or so times.
It's the players that Mayock purportedly compared Gabbert to, however, that drew the biggest eyebrow-raise from me.
What follows is a series of tweets that Kelly sent out as the Mayock conference call was still in progress. Take a guess as to which tweet got my immediate attention.
"Ever team in the top ten who thinks they need a quarterback ought to be grinding those QBs, and they better look at Blaine Gabbert," Mayock
Mayock said he's seen 7 of Blaine Gabbert's games and he reminds him of Stafford and Bradford, guys who immediately do well in NFL.
"If u believe there's a franchise quarterback..that need trumps everything else. Ryan Fitzpatrick is OK, but you need a franchise QB" Mayock
Mayock is concerned about Blaine Gabbert's transition from the spread to NFL offense. "The footwork and reads are completely different."
First and foremost, simply by mentioning Ryan Fitzpatrick by name, it's pretty clear which team Mayock has in mind when talking about a Top 10 team that needs a franchise quarterback.
But hold up: now we've got Mike Mayock, arguably the most well-respected draft expert not employed by an NFL team, is comparing Gabbert to Matthew Stafford and Sam Bradford? That's high praise for a quarterback whose stock was reportedly slipping of late, and who was not supposed to compare favorably with guys that were selected No. 1 overall in the past.
Newton, I think justifiably, is still getting most of the publicity amidst the Bills fan base (see our previous article about Chan Gailey). But this is an eye-opening, yet fair statement of opinion by Mayock - and Bills fans should probably be paying attention.