Blaine Gabbert is one of the most overrated prospects of this entire draft class (editors note, overrated does not mean good, it just means will be over-drafted). From what I have seen, I doubt he will have geat success in the N.F.L.
I’ll cut right to the chase; Gabbert is overrated due to his poor production in a system lesser talented players have produced well in, like Chase Daniels. One of the most common criticisms of Gabbert is that he is a system quarterback; this isn’t true. To be a system quarterback or a quarterback should be limited to one system, or be a perfect fit and dominate in a system. Does this describe Gabbert? No, it does not. With the 69th ranked quarterback rating in the FBS (there are 120 teams), Gabbert had very little success in Missouri’s spread offense. Now I will explain why.
Gabbert has average accuracy. It’s truly nothing special, but it’s not a real are of weakness for him. He does hit his receivers in stride, and most of his throws are pretty accurate. However, he really lacks accuracy when he is throwing on the run, and he throws an extremely inconsistent deep ball. He clearly isn’t comfortable outside of a pocket environment.
Not everything about Gabbert is less than ideal, however.
Gabbert has good physical tools. He has nice height, solid bulk, and very good athleticism. He really added a lot of speed to his game in 2010. Gabbert showed a lot of mobility this year, especially toward the end of the year, getting 232 rushing yards in his final 6 games after getting a net 0 rushing yards in his first 7 games (remember, sacks count against a quarterback’s rushing yard tally in college football).
Gabbert is a good decision maker. He doesn’t usually force many throws, and rarely locks onto receivers, and he has enough knowledge of the game to look of corners and help his guys get open. He also seems very comfortable in a pocket environment. The one big issue with his decision making is that I usually see him hold onto the football way too long. However, he doesn’t usually attract many sacks because he intentionally throws passes away when no receivers are open as much as any quarterback I have ever seen. Decision making is one of the best assets of his game.
Gabbert has one of the cleanest deliveries in college football. He gets the ball out of his arm quite quickly, and it’s very difficult to deflect his passes at the line. He also uses ideal footwork in his throwing motion, which makes him very accurate in the pocket.
Gabbert has solid intangibles. He works hard, he is smart enough to gain an in depth knowledge of the game, he possesses good leadership skills. He is also pretty good in clutch situations. His intangibles aren’t much short of perfect.
What makes Gabbert so overrated is his throw power. I’ll admit, he has throw power, just like every other analyst in the country says about him. He can put good zip on all of his passes and throw pretty far on the fly. But Gabbert’s issue is that he doesn’t use his arm strength very much, and he becomes increasingly inaccurate when he does. He has a 10.6 yards per completion, among the lowest in the FBS, despite his throw power, That’s because he becomes very inaccurate when he uses his throw power. When he puts zip on his passes, his balls tend to sail high and are rarely caught. He is also very inaccurate on the deep ball. And honestly, what’s the point of Gabbert’s throw power is he is ineffective when he uses it? Is his throw power any more valuable than Greg McElroy’s? Greg McElroy may not have any throw power at all, but at least he doesn’t become inaccurate when trying to prove that he does, and he maintains the fourth best quarterback rating in the FBS because he doesn’t become inaccurate when trying to use throw power. But Gabbert’s chronic inaccuracy when trying to put zip on his passes makes him very overrated.
Overall, Gabbert is overrated because his throw power is overrated. I don’t care if he has good throw power; if he is ineffective when he uses it, what’s the point?
NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan. I will continue to contend that I really think Gabbert’s arm strength is overrated. Both Ryan and Gabbert rarely stretch the field (Gabbert’s average completion goes 10.6 yards; Ryan’s goes 10.3), but they are both accurate (both maintain a completion percentage above 62). Gabbert may be a little bit more mobile, but Ryan did more with less in a less simple system. There are similarities.
(Editor’s note: In college Ryan completed 59.3 percent of his passes, at 6.89 yards per pass, with 31 touchdowns and 19 INT Gabbert this past season: 63.4 percent of his passes, 6.71 yards per attempt, 16 TD and 9 INT
And one of Ryan’s biggest critques heading into the draft was his high interception numbers, but what teams raved about Ryan was his ability at the chalk board, his leaderhip/accountability, and interviews…will Gabbert be as impressive in those areas remains to be seen and what could be a huge difference between the success of the two players).
Grade: 92 (worthy of a mid to late first round pick)
Projection: 96 (will be drafted early to mid first round)