Is Blaine Gabbert’s draft stock slipping?

Missouri Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert runs onto the field for a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri on October 23, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The closer we get to Thursday’s NFL draft, the more muddled Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s stock appears to be.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi, Gabbert’s draft stock is “slipping” and the 49ers, who hold the seventh overall pick, are only “lukewarm” on the Missouri product. Lombardi even suggests that Gabbert “could easily slide out of the top 10.”

I don’t buy this. I can see the 49ers not being interested in Gabbert, but I don’t see him falling out of the top 10. Yes, the fact that he played in the spread at MIZZOU raises concerns. But Sam Bradford proved last year that just because a QB played in the spread in college, doesn’t mean he won’t be able to tie his shoes without falling over as soon as he reaches the pros.

Gabbert is a big, strong-armed passer with above-average athletic ability and a good football I.Q. Is he unpolished? Yes, much like all quarterback prospects are at this stage. Is he a sure thing? No, but no prospect is a sure thing heading into the draft.

Assuming Carolina passes on him with the first overall pick, the Bills, Bengals, Cardinals, 49ers, Titans and Redskins are all possibilities for Gabbert in the top 10. In fact, I really like him at No. 8 overall to Tennessee, which will obviously need a quarterback once it dumps Vince Young. I’m not as connected as Lombardi and I would need a calculator to add up how many times I’ve missed on observations when it comes to previous drafts (a fact readers are never shy to remind me about…a-holes). But I don’t see a well put-together quarterback prospect like Gabbert slipping out of the top 10.

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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.

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