It’s in Blaine Gabbert’s best interest not to throw at combine

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

I just read an article written by Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic that left me scratching my head. (No, not because I can’t read. I readed good.)

In the article, Boivin draws comparisons between first round bust Matt Leinart, who decided not to throw at the scouting combine five years ago, and Missouri prospect Blaine Gabbert, who has decided not to throw at this year’s scouting combine.

This season’s quarterback class is an intriguing one, and eight of the best are scheduled to be in Indianapolis. Only one – Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert – has opted not to throw for scouts.

That’s the same Blaine Gabbert that some analysts think will be drafted by the Cardinals.

Many have done it, but it still is a red flag when a player opts to skip a workout. It screams, “I’m hiding something.”

Hiding something? Nobody questions Gabbert’s arm strength, unlike in 2006 when the majority of pundits wondered whether or not Leinart could make all the throws at the next level.

The main concern about Gabbert is whether or not he can take snaps from under center after running the spread offense at Missouri. That’s something you can’t really dispel at the combine and seeing as how he’s regarded as the top quarterback prospect in this year’s class, why wouldn’t Gabbert wait until his Pro Day to throw? He would be well rested and working out in a controlled environment while throwing to his own receivers. (Unlike at the combine, where he doesn’t know the receivers and would have to throw after a full day of poking and prodding by NFL officials.)

Scouts may be anxious to see Gabbert throw this week, but his agent Tom Condon has the right idea here. Choosing not to partake in certain workouts at the combine rarely hinder a prospect that is regarded as the best at his position. Gabbert’s stock may have fallen according to some pundits, but it’s unlikely that he falls out of the top 10 just because he chooses not to showcase his arm in Indianapolis. NFL teams look at the entire body of work when it comes to a player, as they should.

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Five players with something to prove at the 2011 NFL scouting combine

Honestly, there’s not one player who doesn’t have something to prove at this year’s scouting combine. Along with how they perform at their Pro Days, the combine might as well be a job interview for draft-eligible prospects. But below are five guys who stand out as players who have a lot on the line this week in Indianapolis.

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
Reports have surfaced that Mallett bypassed entering the 2010 draft because he had a drug addiction problem. There are also concerns about his decision-making, his leadership abilities and whether or not he can stand up to pressure when the pocket collapses. Some have even labeled him the next Ryan Leaf, which is the kiss of death for any quarterback prospect. But even with all the questions that surround him, he’s 6-6 and 238 pounds, is an ideal pocket passer and has a cannon for a right arm. He won’t run or do any of the agility tests at the combine, but he will throw and interview with teams. I have no doubt that he’ll impress scouts with his physical skills, but he better put his best foot forward during interviews because teams will want to know what kind of character he has. Passing the mandatory drug test wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
Quinn missed the entire 2010 season for his involvement in an agent scandal. If he played well last year (or played at all), he may have been the top pass rusher taken in this year’s draft and a surefire top 10 pick. But because of his suspension, he won’t be able to live on his physical skills alone. There’s no doubt that he has the talent to be better than Aldon Smith, Da’Quan Bowers, Cam Jordan and the rest of the defensive ends in his year’s class, but the time is now for him to start erasing doubts about his character.

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Did Ryan Mallett skip the 2010 draft due to a drug addiction?

More damning rumors are surfacing about quarterback prospect Ryan Mallett’s character and off-field issues. According to Tony Softli of ESPN 101 St. Louis, Mallett did not declare for the 2010 NFL draft due to a possible drug addiction.

Character and drug use issues are starting to rear their ugly head. Heavy rumors of drug use and possible addiction kept him from coming out for the 2010 draft. A lot of people are comparing Mallett to Ryan Leaf. I think Ryan was a better football player, with a cannon for an arm but the immaturity was just too much to overcome. A hair facial test might tell all 32 teams who this person really is.

These next six days are vital for Mallett as he gears up for the scouting combine. He has the most red flags of any quarterback prospect in the draft, which includes Cam Newton. He’ll be administered a drug test to see if he’s used recently and if he has, his stock will certainly plummet as we inch closer to the draft.

Hopefully these are just nasty rumors, but there have been several reports to come out in the last couple of days that don’t paint Mallett in good light. In fact, just yesterday Wes Bunting of the National Football Post wrote that a scout “doesn’t trust the guy as a person off the field” because of the dirt he had on Mallett. Is that “dirt” the same information that Softli just released about the drug addiction?

Of course, if the kid can play then nobody will remember or care about these reports three years from now. But for the time being, they certainly aren’t helping him improve his draft stock. Again, hopefully these are just nasty rumors.

Is LeFevour making the right decision by not throwing at the scouting combine?

Depending on whom you ask, Central Michigan quarterback prospect Dan LeFevour is anywhere from a third round pick to a late round selection. And due to scouts’ concern about his lack of arm strength, the latter is probably more realistic.

After a lackluster week of practice leading up to the game, LeFevour threw for 97 yards and a touchdown on ten attempts in last month’s Senior Bowl. In effort to ride that success, he has decided not to throw at the NFL scouting combine, which kicks off Wednesday, February 24 and runs through March 2.

After racking up 12,905 passing yards, 2,948 rushing yards, 149 total touchdowns and a completion percentage of 66.4, his collegiate numbers speak for themselves. But is he taking a major risk by not throwing at the combine? Does he need to prove to scouts that he can make all the throws?

To gain a better perspective on the topic from someone who watched LeFevour play in college, I asked Central Michigan beat writer Drew Ellis of the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun about the benefits and risks of LeFevour not throwing at the combine.

“The strategy behind not throwing at the combine could simply be to try and give LeFevour the best chance to impress scouts when he finally does throw in front of them,” said Ellis. “LeFevour has chemistry with Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown and if threw at the combine, he could be throwing to some guy he has never met or worked with.”

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