2011 NFL Draft: Should The Bengals Pull The Trigger On Blaine Gabbert?

By on March 10, 2011



I don’t think it’s any secret that the Cincinnati Bengals have more needs than even the 2011 NFL Draft can provide.

  • Carson Palmer is all but determined to retire if not traded.
  • T.O. is currently looking into an advertising deal with Charmin® after shedding an undisclosed weight of measurable tear drops over last year’s failure of a season.
  • The running back situation is a joke—hey Corey Dillon, want your job back?
  • The defense has underachieved for two straight years—so badly—that I don’t even Tommy Casanova could knock sense into these guys.

But for now, I want to take a look at the quarterback situation, namely in Mizzou’s talented junior Blaine Gabbert.

Now, there is no way for sure to know who the Bengals will go after with their first pick unless you’re a fortune teller, but quarterback is definitely a possibility.

The idea was—before the whole CBA talk debacle anyway—the Bengals could go after a QB in free agency (Kevin Kolb anyone?) but that idea was all but a fart in the wind…well up until an hour ago now that free agency might be saved; here’s the early fuzzy details.

The other option was the draft.

The 'Big Three" should find Gabbert the least acclimated for pro ball.

The consensus now is that Auburn’s Cam Newton will probably be scooped up by Carolina, and while there is a slight chance the Bills could go QB first, they’ll likely draft a quality DT considering how horrible they were at getting to the QB last year.

That leaves Cincinnati right after them.

With Newton likely gone, Gabbert simply makes sense from a draft perspective, but that doesn’t necessarily make him the right choice.

Why?

Simply put, Missouri is not known for making  prototypical pocket-passers.

Yes, in the history of Mizzou, there have been plenty of history making arms such as Corby Jones (flourished in the CFL), Steve Pisarkiewicz (ex-Cardinal and Packer), and more recently Chase Daniels (2009 draft class cast off) and even NFL utility man Brad Smith.

But it’s the actual system that has a lot to do with why these guys typically aren’t NFL starting material, despite being ranked so high on the draft board.

Historically, Mizzouri has run a variation of the spread offense that features the quarterback in the shotgun almost ¾ of the time. This is the type of situation that NFL teams tend to stay away from, because college shotgun quarterbacks (like Gabbert) are not developed enough in their footwork…in other words, they’re NOT a prototypical pocket-passer.

In addition to that, Mizzou runs a “single-read” type system which is a good reason why Gabbert’s completion percent is so high. But an aspiring quarterback will never succeed at the pro level if he can’t learn how to get away from the single read mentality.

In essence, a shotgun quarterback who is used to reading one guy (in Gabbert’s case his TE which explains his low passing yard total from 2010) will have a tougher time adjusting to the pro level than the normal prototypical pocket-passer.

So if you’re already devoid of a quarterback—and no, little brother Jordan is NOT the answer— is this the type of player you should target?

Don’t get me wrong, Gabbert does do a lot of things well:

  • He’s very fluid in using a check-down system which is paramount for a young QB in his first two years.
  • He is very good at “bating” LBs and safeties to open some of the tougher passing lanes.
  • He’s is a speedy mobile quarterback who can move around the line rather well, while still making his passes.

But whether or not Gabbert can translate these qualities at the pro level is still very much up in the air…hey Chase, how’s The Big Easy treating ya, buddy?

The Bengals need a better option than Gabbert in my opinion, simply because of the type of situation they’re in. The Bengals don’t have time to develop a quarterback, let alone re-teach some fundamentals.

And they may not even have a veteran around to mentor the child with the way things are currently going.

Again, free agency could wind up solving the dilemma if it’s preserved. But if nothing changes between now and draft day, the Bengals may want to pass on Gabbert and target Jake Locker.

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