Tag Archive: First Round Pick


Scouting Report:

Blaine Gabbert has a great combination of size, arm strength and accuracy. He is also mature for only having started for two seasons.

Positives: Great size, arm strength and accuracy. Has solid mobility and while he might not look graceful as a runner once he gets going he can really pick up a lot of yardage. He has solid vision too and has a good feel for when he should just tuck it down and take off. He has plenty of zip on his throws to make passes from the left hash to the right sideline without a problem, and he can make just about any throw. He has overall terrific ball placement and does a great job of leading his receivers, even against good man coverage, to give them plenty of opportunities for yards after the catch. He has shown flashes of the ability to anticipate his receivers coming open and I have seen him throw a few of his receivers open, but his offense isn’t necessarily conducive to that. He does a good job throwing against man coverage and zone coverage alike because of his accuracy. He can carve up zone coverage with ease and does a great job of combining arm strength, accuracy, timing and touch to throw passes down the seam or down the sideline in-between two defenders for impressive completions. As I said before he is accurate enough to complete passes to his receivers even against blanket man coverage because of his ball placement. He has shown some signs of pocket poise and he has a solid feel for when pressure gets there. I think he progressed in this area as the season went on because he looked better in this aspect against Iowa than he did in all of the previous games I watched him in. And even when he scrambles or moves in the pocket he does a terrific job of resetting his feet and delivering throws with good footwork and mechanics. He has a quick release and he does a great job going from not being set to throw to setting his feet and delivering the ball. He seems to throw better on the run when rolling to his right than he does when he is rolling to his left. He also makes good decisions a lot of the time he throws the ball, which might sound simple, but he throws the ball a lot in his offense and thanks to a largely inconsistent running game he ends up in 3rd and longs more than most QB’s I have scouted this year. However he consistently delivers good passes after making a good decision on where to go with the ball. And if there isn’t a good place to throw the ball he will extend the play and 90% of the time he will throw it away instead of forcing a pass into coverage. That maturity to throw the ball away and not risk a costly turnover is one of the more impressive things about him as a prospect in my opinion.

Negatives: I hate the offense he plays in. It isn’t even close to a NFL offense. I kept track of how often he was working with four and five wide receiver sets and in the games I watched I would say it was at least 80 if not 90% of the time. That is one of my biggest problems with him as a prospect. He will have to work on his footwork on his drops because he rarely if ever made a three or five step drop from under center. That can be coached up though. I am not sure how well he reads defenses because a lot of his reads involve him simply looking at one side of the field and then throwing the ball. He isn’t usually asked to scan the field or go through a lot of progressions. How well he does in the NFL will have to do with how well he learns to use his eyes and how hard he works to learn how to read defenses better, etc. So the offense he plays in definitely makes me wary of him as a prospect. I have a couple other red flags that came up when I watched him. One is his trouble with pocket poise at times. As I said earlier I think he has gotten better in this department, but he still has work to do in my opinion. I would say the majority of the times that he scrambles he is leaving the pocket prematurely, meaning he could have stayed in the pocket or stepped up if he needed to buy more time. That is something I would like to see him improve on, but as I said he flashed the ability to do this more as the season progressed which is encouraging. He also struggles with deep balls. This might sound simple, but the vast majority of his deep passes end up incomplete because he overthrows his receivers. This might have something to do with all of his receivers running 4.5’s or slower (in my estimation) but he should still know to take a little off of it or put a little more air under it to let them run under it after playing with them for two years. But his deep passes, at least in the five games I saw of him, were really the only passes that he struggled to throw accurately with any kind of consistency. Perhaps this won’t be as big of a deal with faster receivers, but not everyone on the team is going to be a burner, so it is worth mentioning that he struggles with ball placement on his deep passes. And, while minor, I think he needs some work on squaring his shoulders when scrambling and attempting to throw on the run. He is pretty good at throwing on the run when moving to the right as he is right handed, but he struggles much more in this area when moving to his left. An additional concern I have is how well he will transition to the NFL because he won’t be throwing the ball as often as he did in college on a regular basis. I don’t think it will be a serious issue, but I wonder how well he will be able to get into a rhythm without throwing the ball as often as he did in college. I’m sure he would trade a chunk of his passing attempts for a more consistent and effective running game though, so this might just be me over-thinking things.

I worry about the offense Gabbert played in, but I believe that if you have good enough intangibles you can overcome a lack of experience in a pro-style offense. We will see if Gabbert proves me right.

Overall: The mark of an effective or even great QB involves a few things: Winning, being effective in the red zone and making big throws late in halves, games and on 3rd downs. Gabbert won a lot of games for just being a two year starter, including an upset of then #1 Oklahoma this season. He is efficient in the red zone despite having almost no running game to keep the defense honest and he makes a lot of good throws late in the half, late in games and especially on 3rd downs. I have to say I was skeptical of Gabbert at first, especially because I am not a Todd McShay fan and he was high on Gabbert, but I was really impressed with what I saw when I watched him play. I took 13 full pages of notes on him so I could learn everything I could about him since I hadn’t seen him play much before, and he is now my #1 QB in this draft class because of Andrew Luck’s decision to stay in school. I would have had him ranked in my top 10 prior to this but probably at about 5 or 6, I just never thought he would declare this year. Now that he has and I have watched him a lot I feel perfectly confident ranking him #1 on my 2011 QB rankings. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to a NFL offense, and while I may be high on him there is no guarantee that the transition will go smoothly. But he has the size, the arm strength, the accuracy and the mechanics to be a successful NFL QB. I wish I could interview him to get a sense for his football IQ, but I think he has pretty good intangibles. I don’t think they are on Matt Ryan’s level, but I think they are adequate. If he has a good football IQ, good intangibles and a good work ethic like I think he does I think he will be a good starting QB in the NFL. Will he be great? I’m not sure. He has the tools to be a great QB, I just don’t know enough about his intangibles and work ethic to say he has that kind of ceiling.

Projection: Top 10. With Luck not declaring there is going to be a vacuum in the top 10 for teams looking for QB’s. Luck wouldn’t have made it out of the top three anyways, but I don’t think I could spend a top 10-15 pick on Locker right now, and I don’t like Mallett much in the top 20 and some teams figure to be turned off by him from interviews based off of what I have heard. That makes Gabbert a prime candidate to leap-frog them all and come off the board first of all the QB’s. I don’t think he warrants the #1 pick to Carolina, but I could definitely see Buffalo or the 49ers picking him in the top 10. He would get a top 15 grade from me, but thanks to the lack of quality QB’s in this class I think he has a great shot to go in the top 10. That makes his decision to declare this year look really smart in my opinion.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

ARM STRENGTH: 4.5
ACCURACY: 4.5
MOBILITY: 3.0
DECISION MAKING: 4.0
MECHANICS: 3.5
POCKET AWARENESS: 3.0
INTANGIBLES: 3.5

Sorry about the lull of posts lately, I am back and ready for scouting reports. I’ll have my A.J. Green report up tomorrow and my Justin Houston one up after that! I am also going through all of my Alabama games, so expect reports on Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, James Carpenter and Marcell Dareus soon! Hopefully you enjoyed my scouting report on Gabbert. He is a really intriguing prospect. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Scouting Report:

Smith has elite athleticism for a NFL left tackle, but his technique is still a work in progress. (Photo courtesty of Long Photography)

Positives: First and foremost you notice his frame which is great. He’s tall and has a lot of room to add additional weight. The second thing you notice is how well he moves for someone that is listed at 280 pounds. He has a good first step, he can mirror just about anyone’s speed rush due to his athleticism and he gets to the second level effortlessly. He should have no problem mirroring even elite speed rushers in the NFL because of his effective kick slide and impressive lateral agility. His value will be highest as a pass blocker though he shows the ability to seal in the run game and also drive block smaller defenders. One thing to love about Smith is his upside, because with his athleticism he could be an elite LT in the NFL if he gets coached up and polished.

Negatives: Smith is a pretty raw prospect. He probably hasn’t been playing at his listed weight of 280 and he really needs to get stronger, especially in the lower body. He will struggle to anchor against bull rushes at times even against smaller defensive ends. Getting stronger in the lower body will help him in the running game as well. His technique needs development also. His footwork seems to be fine in his kick slide, etc. though he doesn’t always keep his feet driving as a run blocker. His initial punch in the run game and as a pass blocker is relatively ineffective and rarely, if ever, shocks the defender he is blocking. He will also struggle to sustain blocks because his technique is pretty raw and at times will just be getting in the way as a run blocker rather than blocking his defender and driving them out of the play.

Overall: Smith is a really intriguing prospect, but I can’t say I am super high on him. He has tons of ability, but you have to wonder why he didn’t end up the starter at LT given his incredible athletic ability that is perfectly suited for the LT position. He was suspended for the bowl game last season because of academic issues and my gut is telling me that he is a guy who has been coasting on his insane athleticism for a long time, so I wonder how good his work ethic is. If his work ethic is good and he goes to a team with a quality offensive line coach he could get a lot better during his first couple of seasons in the league and potentially develop into an elite left tackle in the NFL. But if his work ethic isn’t what it should be then he probably won’t put on as much weight as he should, he probably won’t work to polish his footwork, improve his initial punch and develop his technique and hand placement. If that is the case then he will never live up to his insane potential given his amazing athleticism. And when I say amazing I mean amazing. I have watched him mirror a blitzing corner coming off the edge more than once, which is really a sight to behold. Especially from a right tackle which is what he played at USC.

Projection: Top 15- Smith is all-potential and he won’t contribute much, if anything, as a rookie, so his value will be limited from that standpoint but he has such a great frame, long arms and amazing athleticism for the position. He should be the first LT off the board for this reason, potentially even in the top ten. The best way to describe Smith in my opinion is a guy with top 10 athleticism and 3rd/4th round technique. If his technique ever catches up with athleticism you will have an elite player on your hands, but you never know if that will happen.

SKILLS 1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

STRENGTH: 3.0
PASS BLOCKING: 3.5
RUN BLOCKING: 3.0
FOOTWORK: 3.5
TECHNIQUE: 3.0
MOBILITY: 5.0
MEAN STREAK: 3.0

Jake Locker may have been a top five NFL Draft selection if he had come out last year, but he came back for his senior season and things did not go the way he or many other people may have expected them to. However, he is still a quality prospect despite his up and down season,

Locker has a lot of potential, but I don't think he will be ready to start as a rookie in the NFL.

Scouting Report:

Positives: Locker has good size, very impressive mobility and athleticism, good arm strength and he has a good arm to put the ball where he needs to, has shown the ability to use touch appropriately when necessary. He has good zip on his throws, he has a clean throwing motion and is extremely effective when he can get outside the pocket. He throws well on the run and his mobility is very valuable as a runner and as a tool to extend plays to avoid pressure. He has shown some ability to feel pressure in the pocket and step up and buy time inside the pocket. He makes relatively good decisions with the ball and has shown the maturity to just throw the ball away if there is nothing there. Locker does appear to be effective and reliable late in games, he usually puts his team in a position to win late in games. He’s also a tough player and he will play hurt and finish runs by lowering his shoulder.

Negatives: For all of his progression as a passer Locker still has a ways to go. His accuracy is inconsistent at times and he will miss high, miss low or not put the ball where he needs to on the throw. Some of that has to do with his footwork which is still developing, sometimes he will throw flat footed or off of his back foot which will hurt his accuracy. His pocket presence has improved over his time in Washington, but it could still get better in my estimation. Additionally, I am not overly impressed with Locker as a pocket passer. He is vastly more effective when he can get outside of the pocket, but when he’s inside the pocket he doesn’t seem to be as effective. His decision making has improved over his time at Washington, but he will still throw passes into double coverage and make poor decisions. At times I can explain them if his team is losing and he is just trying to make a play late in a game, but other times they will simply be poor throws he shouldn’t have made.

Overall: I like Locker as a prospect, and if his intangibles are as good as many people lead us to believe then it will be hard to doubt him as a prospect. If he gets drafted to a team with a quality QB coach who can help him develop further I think he will end up being a quality NFL QB. He has good arm strength, he has the ability to throw accurate passes but I am not sure he will ever be much more than a 58% completion guy in the NFL. That is solid, but nothing spectacular. His footwork needs improvement and that will help his accuracy and ball placement a bit, but at times his accuracy is just a little erratic which I am not sure will ever change. However, if he can continue to improve as a pocket passer over the next year or two that I think he will need to further develop then I think he could be an effective starter. Unlike last year when many were convinced he was a future #1 overall pick I do not think he is a future franchise QB. I think his ceiling would be developing into a true dual-threat QB in the NFL as a guy who can complete 58% of his passes, throw for 2,800+ yards, rush for 600-700+ and get throw 20 TD’s/10 INT’s. That is his potential. The question is, will he ever get there? He needs some work going through his progressions though he has shown the ability to do this as well, he needs to improve his footwork and he needs to continue to improve his pocket presence so he can buy time in the pocket without leaving the pocket. I think with a couple of years of development he could do that, but I don’t think he will ever be a franchise QB.

Projection: Late 1st/Early 2nd: I don’t know if I watched Jake Locker this year without seeing him last year if I would think he was a 1st round draft pick. He had a disappointing season this year, but when you watch him play you see obvious ability and talent, but it isn’t very consistent. Locker’s work ethic and intangibles will be critical in projecting him to the NFL, but if he has the work ethic and drive to improve these things then he could be an effective dual-threat QB in the NFL. However, his underwhelming Senior season combined with his potential learning/developmental curve when it comes to adjusting to the NFL may drop him out of the top 15 selections on draft day.

SKILLS
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite

ARM STRENGTH: 3.5
ACCURACY: 3.5
MOBILITY: 4.0
DECISION MAKING: 3.0
MECHANICS: 3.0
POCKET AWARENESS: 3.0
INTANGIBLES: 4.0

Hopefully you enjoyed my thoughts on Jake Locker, please let me know what you think of my analysis!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom