Most evaluators believe that his shining moment came against my beloved Iowa Hawkeyes. He was 41-57 for 434 yards. Clearly, those are impressive numbers. But if you watched the game and tried to evaluate him as a prospect, it was not nearly as impressive as a performance.
The majority of his passes were five-yard outs and crossing patterns where he used his receivers' speed advantage on Iowa's linebackers. These were very easy pitch-and-catch throws that most high school quarterbacks could make.
He also showed two major flaws in the Iowa game. He cannot read the field, and he cannot handle pressure. All of his plays required him to read one side of the field and ideally fire the ball out of there as quickly as possible. If that is not there, he is slow to look to the other side of the field and his first instinct is to scramble out of the pocket instead of checking out what other receivers he has available. He also seems to get a bit of tunnel vision when throwing it to his receivers. Against zone coverage, he will often lead his receivers into tough spots and put them in position to take big hits.
The other big thing is that he does not handle pressure well. The second that he feels pressure he tries to sprint at an angle that takes him backwards and towards the sideline. When he does this, he just focuses on getting away from the defenders and completely loses track of where his receivers are. If he manages to avoid the rush comfortably enough to look down the field again, he's usually ten yards further back, making a meaningful completion highly unlikely. And although he has good speed, he is not especially adept at avoiding the rush, as he is not that quick, and he basically has to turn it into a straight sprint away from the defense as opposed to shuffling his feet to buy a little extra time and fire the ball down the field.
His game against Illinois provides great video evidence of what I'm talking about.
When watching Blaine Gabbert, there is one name that keeps coming to my mind. It's a guy who was put in a very productive offense in college, much like Gabbert had at Missouri. He put up good, but not great stats compared to other QBs in that system. The good news is that this quarterback led his team to a Super Bowl. The bad news is that it's Rex Grossman.
I basically see about the same things happening for Gabbert. You can't tell me that this doesn't look like something Rex Grossman would do.
If he is an offense where his first look is consistently open, he will look like a pro bowler. If not, he will have people screaming for Brian Griese to take the starting job. I'll admit the comparison is a little on the harsh side, so if you want to call Gabbert a rich man's Rex Grossman, I won't argue against that.
While his physical attributes will make some talent evaluators salivate, I wouldn't even think about him until round two. Could he develop into a great quarterback? Maybe. But I don't think it's very likely. There are too many glaring holes in his game right now. Calling this guy the next great QB prospect is just plain false and overlooks nearly everything that he's shown in games.
But there's no need to fret, quarterback needing teams. Next week, I will reveal the quarterback prospect that I feel is the most underrated in the draft.
P.S. Don't worry, Iowa hating readers, my underrated QB prospect is not Ricky Stanzi.
P.P.S. In "Troy Tulowitzki is more awesome than you" news, he is allowing fans to pick out his walk-up song for next year after coming out to Party in the USA last year. Needless to say, I sent in my suggestion of Seal's "Kiss From A Rose."