The Jacksonville Jaguars are likely to draft a quarterback at some point in the 2013 NFL Draft, but the biggest question is can Blaine Gabbert turn into the franchise quarterback that the team drafted him as in 2011? Former Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey spent a year as the Jaguars head coach with Gabbert and talked with Mike Florio on PFTLive a bit about the Jaguars, including on whether or not he thinks Gabbert can be a franchise quarterback.
"I'll say this; I watched a lot of tape on Blaine (Gabbert) prior to going there and interviewing for that job and there were some things that were going against him his rookie year," Mularkey told Mike Florio when asked if he thought Blaine Gabbert could be the Jaguars franchise quarterback. "Basically he wasn't drafted to be the starter, he was a true junior coming out of the draft, which is hard to do. He was supposed to be sitting back and being groomed, but kinda thrown into the fire and not a lot of help around him that rookie year with some of the positions around him to help him."
While it's true Gabbert had little to no help his rookie season, he at least had a running back in Maurice Jones-Drew who led the NFL in rushing, but Gabbert still struggled mightily to be an effective passer. It also still begs the question as to why you would trade up to the Top 10 for a quarterback you didn't plan on starting out of the gate, but that's another discussion for another post.
"We came in here and we felt like with the coaching and the system we were running we felt like he got better and he was getting better up until that injury," Mularkey continued. "Forecasting out whether he's going to be one of those franchise quarterbacks I can't do that. I still think... The thing I saw was improvement and that's what we wanted from him, to see if he could improve from rookie year to the second year, and we think he did that. We tried to help him by bringing (Justin) Blackmon and Cecil Shorts coming and showing up and maybe becoming a future star, but with no run game, our run game was hurt and we had a lot of injuries, he's just really never had the chance that you'd like to give the guy."
As mentioned before, even with a run game his rookie season, Gabbert struggled to even be just a functional passer and/or game manager. But, Mularkey continues with the same buzzwords we've heard from everyone on Gabbert about his age and lack of experience.
"I look at it this way; Blaine came out after his true junior year, Matt Ryan when he came out with the Falcons and we were fortunate to draft him there was a fifth year senior. So really you're talking about two more years of college experience that would have helped Blaine develop a little more getting into the NFL," Mularkey told Florio when asked how much time a player should have. "I think everybody is different, you look at Aaron Rodgers sitting there waiting for that chance and then, and again I'm not comparing Blaine Gabbert to Aaron Rodgers, but again everybody kind of develops at a different speed and who knows what's ahead for Blaine. But I know he works at it, he's trying to be that quarterback that they drafted him to be at that position."
It was a very non-committal answer from a coach who spent a full season with the player, but Mularkey did pull Gabbert as the starter midway through the season however, and made sure to note it was not due to injury.