I'll admit up front that Gabbert wasn't even on my radar before the new year. So, considering the praise he's received leading up to the draft I thought I'd get to know him a little better.
My perception going into this was simple: "Gabbert WHO?" My ignorance, of course.
In the last couple of weeks I've reviewed everything I could find on Gabbert; mostly from youtube video, articles, and a handlful of full games (including the the Insight Bowl) I had on DVR. So that's primarily where this is coming from. Of course, not being a professional scout I wouldn't expect this to be overly Insightful, but here's what I see:
+ Gabbert keeps plays alive. As Gailey has addressed directly, the era of the pure pocket passer is a thing of the past. The QB of the future must be able to escape the pocket and create. Gabbert excels in this area. He seems to like it a little too much! (see Inconclusives)
+ Gabbert has an elite release. Nothing to scoff at, really. He gets tremendous power into his throws that appear to be a flick of the wrist for him. He makes up his mind to throw and it's out in a flash. He actually seems a little hard to catch in the short area because he can handcuff a receiver.
+ Excellent arm strength. This is a continuation of the last comment, really. He can make every throw.
+ Prototypical Size. 6'4 1/2 and around 240 lbs.
- Inaccurate on intermediate and deep balls. Doesn't matter how quick his release is or how far he can throw the ball if he's overthrowing receivers, which is something he does entirely TOO much. This is a serious knock on him because many of his misfires didn't seem to be forced by pressure. He seems to get too pumped and the ball sails on him.
+/- Gabbert routinely pulled the ball down and bolted when the pressure got anywhere near him. Perhaps he didn't trust his line enough? Or perhaps he just gets antsy and wants to run at the first sign of pressure. Inconclusive for me, particularly because in the spread he should have limited reads and if they aren't there he SHOULD try to make something happen with his feet. So, I'm not going to knock him for it, but it's there!
+/- Where are the big spread offense numbers? Aside from the Insight Bowl (1 TD, 2 INTs but 400+ yards against a tough Iowa defense,) he didn't light it up. 1 game in particular v. Iowa State (who ranked 76th in the nation in points against) was downright anemic (1 TD / 0 INT)
Here's a game recap highlighting their offensive ineffectiveness:
He's certainly flush with intangibles and seems like a great kid with tremendous upside and when that upside stretches into the franchise QB zone you have to take notice. But it's impossible for me to put him in the top 5 with what I know, which admittedly isn't all that much. So I'll assign a not completely random, but essentially meaningless top 20 grade on him. If the Bills could finagle a trade down and grab him in the low teens, that would be the ideal scenario for me. He definitely doesn't knock my socks off.
That being said, if Nix and Gailey (knowing far more than I) give him the nod at #3, I'll be excited and hopeful. But if I was calling the shots, Blaine would have to wait a while to hear his name.