Quarterback shows his polish to NFL media

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

If draft picks were made on the merit of polish, former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert would have few contemporaries.

He comes across as slick as a car salesman, and smoother than most. He did his 10 minutes on the podium in front of the media on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine and was easily one of the best prepared, almost professionally so.

When Cam Newton’s turn with the NFL media was pushed back to Saturday, Gabbert became the interview of Day 2 of this combine.

The real question, though, is which, if either, will be the No. 1 quarterback taken on draft day.

Gabbert was quick to point out that right now it’s the media that is driving the Cam and Blaine bus.

“I think that’s what you guys are making it out to be, kind of me versus Cam,” Gabbert said. “But it’s just an opportunity for us to get drafted as high as possible. I know Cam, Ryan (Mallett), and Jake (Locker) are all working to be the No. 1 guy. And it’s going to be a fun next few months.”

In a year when there is so little to separate the top quarterbacks such as Gabbert from a Newton, or a Locker or even a Mallett, every little bit helps and the Missouri QB isn’t missing a beat.

His draft stock has steadily risen to the point where on some boards — including that of NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, the gold standard for NFL mock drafts — Gabbert has blown past Newton into the No. 1 position.

Mayock, in fact, has dropped Newton to third behind both Gabbert and Washington’s Locker.

Not even his decision not to throw at this weekend’s combine while all the other top quarterback talents have decided to do just that, could slow Gabbert down.

First of all, Gabbert has enlisted Tom Condon of Creative Artists to be his agent and Condon had made it a policy that his clients do not throw at the combine.

“It has been successful in the past,” Gabbert said. “Of course, Sam (Bradford) had his injury, so he was only going to throw at his pro day. But Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, these guys have only selected to throw at their pro day, and they’ve been extremely successful in doing that. It’s more of a controlled atmosphere, you have a script. I’m not shying away from competition or anything, but I’m just throwing at my pro day and that’s really about it.”

Gabbert, like Newton, comes from a college program that played out of a spread formation, so he was rarely under centre and almost always in the shotgun.

Despite the fact that is not the case in the NFL, Gabbert doesn’t view that as a disadvantage.

“Tim Tebow,” Gabbert began. “The knock on him was he was a 100% shotgun quarterback. And he started the last few games at Denver, had success. Sam (Bradford), same way. He was in shotgun a lot in college. Colt McCoy, same way. These guys have all had success in their rookie seasons, so I really don’t see the problem with being a spread quarterback in college, because if you’re good, you’re good, and you’re going to play wherever.”

Gabbert, like Mallett and Newton is a junior and, while he admits the decision to come out early was not an easy one, it became pretty clear to him once he and his family sat down and determined how many teams were in need of a quarterback.

“That was definitely a big factor in my decision,” Gabbert said. “You’re looking at the top 15 teams, potentially 10 (of those) teams could use a quarterback.

“I know every quarterback in this draft looked at that — not only me. So that was kind of a point that helped me make my decision. That’s kind of why I decided to come out.”

Gabbert is asked what he believes makes him the best quarterback in the 2011 class and his sales hat goes back on.

“I’m going to outwork everybody,” he says. “That’s how I was raised. But nothing’s ever going to be given to you in life. You’ve got to earn everything you get. That’s kind of the mindset I’ve taken to football, the mindset I’ve taken to school. That’s why I’m never going to stop working, I’m never going to be outworked by anybody else.”

It all sounds convincing. It’s going to be interesting to see if it makes a difference come draft day.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos