Lost in the fire storm that turned about to be the 2011 season for Blaine Gabbert was that he technically could have been in this year's draft class of quarterbacks. Obviously this is pure speculation as Blaine chose to leave school early to pursue his NFL dream, but that doesn't change the fact that he left as a pure junior, and therefore should be judged vs. this year's QB class. Some in the National Media have already labeled Gabbert a "Bust" with statements such as he will "never learn pocket presence" or even to go as far to think he is "scared." I have even heard local radio callers criticize him as being a "reach." These irrational statements clearly are not true and if they turn out to be are it is still way too early to pass such resolute judgment.
But what if Blaine decided to stay for his senior year? He would have just finished his combine, and had results eerily similar to Andrew Luck and RG111. Think about that Jaguar fans, the guy that is decisively bashed is at the same level athletically as the other "sure thing" super star prospects. Size? He is the same size as Andrew Luck. Speed? Blaine ran his 40 faster than Andrew Luck (4.62 vs. 4.67 unofficially). Broad jump? Same as RG111. While his vertical was less than the other two, I don't take that much stock in it as I don't want my qbs making jump passes. Simply put, nothing has changed for Blaine that didn't warrant him being a top ten pick to begin with. He is still fast, big, strong, and smart with a laser for an arm. The only thing that separates the two is Blaine has one season in the NFL already under his belt. Put plainly, he had points of failure. But let us not take his playing experience as a condemnation of his ability, but rather see it as advantage as it was an invaluable learning experience. He has learned what it takes, has already taken hits, and had some success. He was one Jason Hill catch away from having an impressive game winning driven vs. the Browns.
All I am stressing is that we need to give him the time he deserves to develop, and do not be so quick to judge. While I realize this is a win now league, it still takes time. Time to learn, the same time Andrew and Robert are going to have. Let us not forget Jake Locker sat for most of his first season. Blaine was drafted as a junior and shouldn't be compared to Cam Newton or Christian Ponder. He should be compared to this year's crop and if he was would be considered as a top talent as well. Time will tell if his decision to leave school early was disastrous to his development or advantageous, but he was, and still is a top ten talent.