As a fan of an NFL team, when is it safe to transfer from “critical” to “uncritically optimistic”? This is how I feel about Blaine Gabbert. Let’s be honest. This team is going nowhere in 2011. I can see the offense being decent even without a QB more “seasoned” than Rusty Smith. There are pieces there that any decent veteran QB could make tough to defend. Do I include Kerry Collins in the serviceable veteran category? Sadly, yes.
Gabbert has the tools to be an All Pro. I don’t mean just a Pro Bowler after seven QBs drop out. I mean a quarterback considered one of the top two or three guys in the league. The tools are off the charts. He has the arm strength, the ability to throw on the run, and the flat out ability to run the ball. That’s where I stop with the positives.
Let’s recall his final important college throw. It was third and moderate. Missouri trailed Iowa all game but had rallied to a 24-20 lead. One first down and the team was in field goal range and could start thinking about running down the clock. Gabbert rolled to his left. He is a right-handed QB. As he flushed toward the sideline, the nearest wideout took on his defender like he was blocking. Gabbert threw the ball to the defensive back who ran all the way back for the game-winning score.
This is not how you want your college career to be defined. You’d rather it be defined by an upset win over then-number one Oklahoma, or in a road win at Texas A&M. The throw was absolutely moronic, and that’s the memory of Gabbert that I can’t shake.
The mental side determines who makes it in the NFL. There are more talented guys than roster spots. It doesn’t always look that way when guys like Brian St. Pierre manage to start a game. The last QB the Titans took in the first round arrived in the league straight off an MVP performance in the national championship game. We found out that Vince did not have the mental side down. He couldn’t handle adversity nor could he remember the plays at times. The Titans can’t afford to make that kind of mistake. Heck, the year before they drafted Pacman Jones and passed on a decent guy named Aaron.
I see a deep but possibly tools-heavy group of quarterbacks in this year’s draft. I feel like the Titans would be better served by taking one of a deep crop of defensive linemen. It sounds like double-talk here but Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith is another possibility. He’s equally raw as a redshirt sophomore, but a duo of him and Derrick Morgan sounds pretty solid. The team’s going to need a good pass rush against the great quarterbacks of the AFC South and David Garrard.