Is Blaine Gabbert’s stock dropping?

Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert throws the football in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri on October 23, 2010. Missouri defeated Oklahoma 36-27. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Almost right on cue, the supposed No. 1 quarterback’s stock is starting to fall.

Every year the media crowns someone the best quarterback prospect in the draft and every year that top signal caller’s stock starts to fall right around the combine. This year, the QB atop most pundits’ rankings is Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, whose draft stock has begun “slipping” according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper.

Rotoworld has the details:

According to Kiper, Gabbert’s fall has occurred after NFL teams did “more film work” on the underclassman’s junior year. It’s true that Gabbert did not dominate his competition in 2010, throwing for 16 touchdowns compared to nine picks and averaging an unimpressive 6.71 yards per attempt. Gabbert was much better as a sophomore.

I always find reports like these humorous because they’re so vague. How many teams are we talking about? Because there are five teams in the top-10 that could use a quarterback (Carolina, Buffalo, Arizona, San Francisco and Tennessee), seven if you believe the Bengals will trade Carson Palmer and the Redskins will dump Donovan McNabb.

Have all those teams soured on Gabbert after watching more film? Have three? Have two? Have one?

Or were these not the teams that Kiper was referring to? If they weren’t, then I wonder why Gabbert’s stock would fall just because teams that draft in the middle or bottom half of the first round didn’t like what they saw on film.

I’m not trying to discredit Kiper’s report but without knowing what teams have soured on Gabbert, this news means very little. Plus, he’s a junior so he didn’t perform at the Senior Bowl, the combine is still over a week away and he hasn’t had his Pro Day yet. There’s still a lot of time before the draft, so I would take reports like these with a grain of salt.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Mel Kiper Jr. denies claims that he helped agents woo clients

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:  Mel Kiper, Chris Mortensen and Keyshawn Johnson broadcast for ESPN during the 2007 NFL Draft on April 28, 2007 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Former NFL agent Josh Luchs told Sports Illustrated that he provided cash and benefits to college football players in hopes of signing them as clients. He also said that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. helped him and agent Gary Wichard scheme in order to woo potential clients by using Kiper’s draft rankings.

But Kiper is now calling shenanigans on Luchs and his employer has already shut the book on a potential probe.

From NBC Sports:

Why did the investigation end so quickly? One of the reasons may have been Kiper’s machine-gun rattling of the instances where he had a Wichard client rated lower than the Wichard client actually was picked, which we heard on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning. Kiper also defended himself vigorously in an online chat, which was much easier to digest because the information could be gleaned without, you know, having to listen to him speak.

Or maybe ESPN realized that the Sports Illustrated article didn’t actually constitute new information. The Kiper-Wichard connection has been well known for years; ESPN surely has crossed this bridge long before Kiper’s latest contract was signed. It would have been unfair and wrong for ESPN to suddenly wring hands and gnash teeth regarding a relationship of which ESPN has been well aware.

Or maybe ESPN is confident that Kiper hasn’t been corrupted by relationships with Wichard or other agents. Former ESPN producer Fred Gaudelli, who now produces NBC’s Sunday Night Football, contacted us via e-mail today with a first-hand assessment of Kiper’s work.

“I was the Producer or Executive Producer of ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft from 1990 to 2001,” Gaudelli said. “I spoke to Mel Kiper virtually every day from combine time through draft day(s). I knew his thoughts and opinions of the top 50 to 100 players each year and trust me when I tell you he never falsely pumped or promoted any player for any reason.

The evidence seems to be mounting for Kiper, not against him so he should be fine. Considering how adamant he’s been about not helping these agents, I tend to believe him. That said, I wouldn’t doubt that he’s been approached by agents to pimp their prospects and I’m sure agents have told clients that Kiper will help them out. But again, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to suggest that Kiper has been prospect pimp.

We’ll see if more comes out but as of now, there’s nothing here.

Redskins, Chiefs, Browns all after Berry?

Here is some Eric Berry news leading up to the draft:

– The NFL Network’s Jason LaCanfora reports that other teams have begun to project Berry to the Redskins at No. 4 overall. The Washington Post is reporting similar news.

– Mel Kiper says that while Bryan Bulaga and Trent Williams remain options, he’d still go with Berry as the Chiefs pick at No. 5. Of course, SI.com’s Peter King contradicts Kiper and says that the Chiefs will pass on Berry if he’s available.

– ESPN’s Michael Smith reports that Berry will be the Browns’ pick at No. 7 if he’s available.

Players like Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders (when he’s healthy) have made teams realize how valuable it is to have a versatile safety as their last line of defense. Berry is by far the best safety in this year’s class and it’s no wonder why multiple teams in the top 10 are considering him.

That said, the Redskins have a huge hole at left tackle and might not be able to afford passing on one at No. 4. The Chiefs have a similar issue and therefore, might take an OT right behind Washington at No. 5. Cleveland, on the other hand, is in dire need of a playmaking safety and is a logical fit for Berry at No. 7. Even though Reed, Polamalu and Sanders have proven their worth, teams are still reluctant to draft safeties that high. (Although again, I don’t think Cleveland passes at No. 7.)

But I wouldn’t be surprised if Berry never makes it to Mike Holmgren and the Browns based on the emerging importance of the safety position.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Ndamukong Suh wins Lombardi Award

Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is recognized by many as the best NFL prospect in college football. He’s been invited to attend the Heisman Trophy in New York as a finalist, despite the fact that he’s a defensive player. Meanwhile, he’s getting other prestigious awards.

Ndamukong Suh picked up another honor Wednesday night, taking home the Rotary Lombardi Award as the nation’s top lineman.

But in this week of picking up trophies, he took some time away from the celebration to apologize to fellow Lombardi Award finalist Jerry Hughes of TCU for not knocking off Texas in the Big 12 Championship game on Saturday.

Suh was chasing Colt McCoy with seconds left in the game and he threw the ball away as the clock ticked to zero. But a review ruled there was a second remaining and the Longhorns kicked a field goal for the 13-12 win.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper currently has Suh at the top of his Big Board for the 2010 NFL Draft and Scouts, Inc. has him rated as the third best draft prospect.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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