Footwork, deep ball at pro day may determine Blaine Gabbert's fate

Blaine Gabbert's ascension to the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft could happen today.

It will be hard to judge the quarterback throwing the ball at Missouri's pro day. In his scripted workout for NFL scouts and personnel men, Gabbert will be made to look perfect.

The main area Gabbert will be watched in is his drop back from under center. His personal coach Terry Shea told Sports Illustrated that Gabbert will take snaps from center Tim Barnes.

 

As Shea noted to writer Don Banks, Gabbert has some history playing under center after being in a pro style scheme in high school. Still, that was the juvenile level.

As oddly specific as it sounds, how Gabbert looks dropping back could determine where he drops in the draft. Coming from Missouri's spread offense, Gabbert wasn't asked to drop back from under center. When Cam Newton, Gabbert's top competition, was asked to drop back at the Auburn pro day, his footwork looked a little slow.

The other key for Gabbert will be how he throws from the pocket to outside the hashes. He wasn't consistently asked to do that at Missouri and sometimes sailed the ball high. Simply, Gabbert may have issues with his deep ball.

Gabbert will probably throw about 60 passes of all varieties this afternoon. He'll probably complete just about all of them. That's how pro days are expected to go. If he doesn't complete about 90 percent of his passes, people will blame it on the small-college receivers he has to throw to.

One person expecting a lot of Gabbert is NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi.

"This is a unique athlete," he said on air Wednesday. "Big-time arm. Ascending and tomorrow will be when he reaches the peak."

That peak is the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers. He just might get there if looks good doing the little things.

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