Blaine Gabbert lurking in the shadows

Blaine Gabbert has taken a back seat to Cam Newton so far in the draft process, but it might not last for long.

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Under normal circumstances, in any other year, the talk about Blaine Gabbert would be heating up. Gabbert was a prolific passer at Missouri with prototypical size and arm strength. However, instead of Gabbert being the talk of the draft, Cam Newton has stolen the spotlight.

Following Gabbert's decision to forgo his senior season and Andrew Luck's decision to stay put at Stanford, chatter about Gabbert being the top QB taken in the draft commenced. Then, Newton crashed the party and began his ascent up draft boards across the league.

The appeal of Newton is obvious –physical attributes and athleticism rarely seen before. However, Newton's flaws are equally as obvious. Can he throw the ball effectively on a consistent basis? Can he process an NFL offense and read opposing defenses? Was he a one-year wonder at Auburn? These are all legitimate questions that have yet to be addressed.

From the looks of it, Newton is a project, a major project. But he does have the intangibles to overcome his shortcomings rather quickly. Is there potential for him to be a star? Of course. Is there potential for him to be a bust? Of course.

Translating Newton's ability it to the next level could be a difficult and time consuming task. In the ‘what have you done for me lately' mentality of the NFL, is there a coach willing to wait two or three years for Newton to develop? Is there anyone in the league with that kind of leeway?

Yes, there is, but those coaches might shy away from the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, especially with a top 10 pick.

Back to Gabbert, whose biggest downfall is that he hails from a spread offense. But unlike others who made their name in the gimmicky system in college, Gabbert has the physical attributes needed to thrive in the NFL. If not for the freakish physical skill set and combine workout of Newton, the talk of Gabbert would be far greater.

Blaine Gabbert
(AP Photo)

Gabbert has the size and arm strength that scouts are desperately searching for. He ran an offense at Missouri that required him to at least make some kind of reads. Newton, on the other hand, typically made his reads in a run-first offense while most of his passes were pre-determined before the snap.

All things considered, Gabbert is much more NFL ready and has a chance grow into a contributor at a faster pace than Newton. More importantly, his ceiling might even be greater than that of Newton.

Both Newton and Gabbert are being considered by all teams in need of a quarterback, including the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills, owners of the first and third overall selections in the draft.

In addition to the Panthers and Bills, the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins all need a quarterback. Even the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys could secretively be plotting to make a move under center with their first-round pick.

Given the teams of need of signal caller, expect both Newton and Gabbert to be selected in the top 10 of this year's draft. Gabbert might be the second quarterback to come off the board, but his potential as an NFL signal caller is second to no one.

Thanks to Newton, the pressure on Gabbert will be less and expectations will be lower. The spotlight will be bright but not as bright as it could be.

Although Gabbert has been forced to take a back seat so far in the draft process, it could ultimately help him in the long run.

Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at

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