The prevailing national opinion is that, because of how bad Gabbert looked for most of his rookie season, he can’t be a capable NFL quarterback.
But a slew of quality NFL signal-callers played poorly in their first seasons. Gabbert has all sort of new resources, starting with a new coaching staff hired largely because of experience developing young quarterbacks. He got one receiver, Laurent Robinson, in free agency and another, Justin Blackmon, with the fifth pick in the draft. The defense will be healthy, and second-round draft pick Andre Branch, an end from Clemson, could prove to be the final piece of a great group. A great defense is a good friend for a developing quarterback.
Gabbert was skittish at times for sure. But the jump to saying he played scared is too big for me. He’s got a great arm and can fire the ball to spots when he’s given time, and when his targets are in the right spots. He certainly can develop a better pocket presence. Will he?
General manager Gene Smith and many in the Jaguars organization have staked their reputations on Gabbert. The franchise traded up to the 10th spot in last year’s draft to select him out of Missouri. How much he can improve is likely to tell the Jaguars’ story in 2012.