Blaine Gabbert most likely wasn't banking on a career in the NFL when he was leading as the Longhorns' quarterback before graduating in 2008.
But, after two winning seasons as starting quarterback at the University of Missouri, and an onslaught of media hype regarding his NFL future, Gabbert’s entrance into the NFL is a reality. What few, if any, draft observers expected, however, was seeing Gabbert taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars as the 10th overall pick—a relatively low spot for the 21-year-old who many rated as the No. 1 quarterback draft prospect.
"I was expecting to get drafted by the end of the night," Gabbert said on ESPN. "I had no preconceived notions coming into tonight. And hey, I'm a No. 10 overall draft pick in the NFL draft. That's not too bad."
The 6-5, 234-pound quarterback had been rumored to go anywhere in the first round, from a possible top pick to a mid-round selection. But it was assumed that he would be the second quarterback taken after top-pick Cameron Newton went to the Carolina Panthers. The biggest surprise in the draft’s first hour on Thursday was Jake Locker from the University of Washington going to the Tennessee Titans with the No. 8 overall pick.
Gabbert’s primary standout features include his size, powerful arm, pinpoint accuracy and impressive mobility. Gabbert is brilliant at the short and intermediate passing game, in addition to being able to throw the ball 45-plus yards with ease. Many pro scouts praise his calmness in the pocket, and ability to avoid risky passes. However, he did show signs of hanging onto the football for too long in the pocket, at times, during his junior season.
Area fans who watched Gabbert develop at Missouri probably noticed his deft ability to pump fake and get defenders off balance as well, which should serve him well in Jacksonville.
Fans, especially in West County, most likely recall the frenzy surrounding Gabbert when he was being recruited at Parkway West. Gabbert was among the top-ranked players in the nation as a senior, and clearly the most sought-after player in Missouri. He only played five games as a senior for the Longhorns because of a foot injury and a shoulder injury. Gabbert started as a sophomore and junior. In his junior season, Gabbert threw for 1,523 yards and 20 TDs on 119-of-231 passing.
He chose Missouri over schools such as Nebraska, Oregon, Tennesse, Alabama, Iowa, Kansas and Kansas State. While playing for head coach Gary Pinkel at Missouri, Gabbert won 18 games while starting in his sophomore and junior seasons for the Tigers. He threw for 3,186 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2010, and his 6,822 career passing yards ranks fourth in school history. Gabbert’s 40 career touchdowns is third in Missouri history.
It was actually Gabbert’s eye-popping junior season that brought him into the national stage. Gabbert threw for 3,593 yards and 24 TDs in 2009.
In 2010, the Jaguars went 8-8 to finish in second place in the AFC South behind the Indianapolis Colts. David Garrard started most of Jacksonville’s games, throwing for 2,734 yards and 23 TDs. Garrard is expected to remain the team’s starter.
Blaine Gabbert's 31-game Mizzou football career at glance:Year G-GS Passing Pct. Yds. TD INT Rating 2008 5-0 5-13 38.5% 43 0 0 66.25 2009 13-13 262-445 58.9% 3,593 24 9 140.45 2010 13-13 301-475 63.4% 3,186 16 9 127.04 Career 31-26 568-933 60.9% 6,822 40 18 132.59
Statistics courtesy of the official University of Missouri athletics website.