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Gabbert gabs about transition to NFL


There was a time, not long ago, when spread offenses like the one at Missouri that produced quarterback Blaine Gabbert were viewed as little more than a gimmick.

In the last few years, however, similar offenses have spread like wildfire around college football.

But the use of such offenses in the NFL isn't widespread, leaving talent evaluators to tackle the task of figuring out whether Gabbert and others like him will be able to make the transition to the professional ranks.

Gabbert believes he knows the answer.

"You see guys like Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow - I could go on and on and on about these spread quarterback who've had early success in their careers in the NFL," Gabbert said. "These guys have all had success in their rookie seasons, so I really don't see the problem with being a spread quarterback in college, because if you're good, you're good."

Gabbert was good at Missouri, good enough that he's been given consideration as the No. 1 overall choice in next week's NFL Draft and is viewed by almost everyone as a top-10 pick.

Gabbert also understands, however, that teams near the top of the draft order aren't looking at him with the idea of putting him in the shotgun on every play and spreading five receivers out wide.

And scouts simply don't have the benefit of seeing how Gabbert can operate in a pro-style offense – as is the case with half the quarterbacks that could be taken in the first two rounds.

"That's a big part of this whole process, firming up my technique and drops from under center," Gabbert said. "The footwork is different - we were in the shotgun about 98 percent of the time - so that's what I've been working on. My quarterback coach, Terry Shea, has made that an extremely important process that I have to work on. I've done a great job so far and haven't seen a problem one bit."

While precise timing is paramount in NFL offenses, no one can question Gabbert's timing when it came to his decision to leave college with one year of eligibility remaining.

Scouts already had their eyes on Gabbert, and then everything fell into place. Elite quarterback prospect Andrew Luck of Stanford decided to stay in school, and NFL teams can't currently consider free agent options at quarterback, even as a multitude of teams in the top half of the draft need help under center.

"That was definitely a big factor in my decision," Gabbert said. "You look at the top 15 teams, and potentially 10 could use a quarterback. I know every quarterback in this draft looked at that - not only me.

"This opportunity doesn't come around very often. It's a once in a lifetime chance, and I'm going to make the most of it and just have fun doing it."

Gabbert doesn't feel at all like he's ill-prepared for the next level. He excelled in a pro-style offense in high school, and aspects of Missouri's offensive approach should transfer as well.

"We didn't just dink and dunk. We threw it everywhere on the field," Gabbert said. "That was an instrumental part of our offense, hitting the seams, hitting the verticals on the sideline. That's how we beat teams.
I had to make those throws. I was willing to make those throws. And I did make those throws."

Still, Gabbert knows that there's lots to learn in his transition. The key for him and the other quarterbacks coming from spread systems could be that they're willing to learn and they have the mental acumen and physical tools that will allow them to learn.

"It takes more in the NFL. It's a full-time job, and I realize that," Gabbert said. "I love the game of football, and that's been my goal - to only do football. I'm going to be in the film room, going to be in the weight room just preparing as hard as possible.

"I'm going to outwork everybody. That's how I was raised. Nothing's ever going to be given to you in life. You've got to earn everything you get."


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