Considering Blaine Gabbert's age, status

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
9:59
AM ET
When the Jaguars' new quarterbacks coach, Frank Scelfo, recently talked of how Blaine Gabbert would rank in the 2013 draft, some shrugged it off as spin.

But Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth considers the idea that Gabbert’s age means he could actually be part of this draft class. Instead the Jaguars quarterback heads into 2013 with two seasons of NFL lumps already in his pocket.

“For Scelfo and the Jaguars, this means that a clear-thinking appraisal of the bird in hand should keep the team from rushing too quickly into the bush,” Tanier writes. “… [T]here are several quarterbacks older than Gabbert in this draft class: Landry Jones, Tyler Wilson, Collin Klein, Jordan Rodgers and a few others hanging around the fringe of prospect status. When we are appraising a player's ‘potential,’ shouldn't we at least acknowledge that there are players knocking around the NFL who are the same age or younger, guys who may taken some lumps in the pros, but at least took those lumps in the pros?”

It’s a good point. Any team would rather have a quick-impact draft pick quarterback -- Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick.

But there are guys who take longer and turn out to be pretty good. Gabbert’s environment has been closer to Alex Smith’s than any of those guys. He’s 23, and still has time.

To me, Gabbert’s arrow is pointing down. But I still urge people to remember it’s been only two years, and a ton of quarterbacks were bad in their first two years and wound up good players. Gabbert is not going to be Steve Young, but how was Young’s early career?

Tanier also isn’t saying Gabbert’s going to be a quality NFL quarterback. He’s merely examining the circumstances.
Gabbert is now perceived as a flop who needs his quarterback coach to stand up for him. Wilson will be a lower draft choice (and get less guaranteed money) but is getting high marks in NFL circles for battling through the Arkansas mess and proving that he can throw passes under fire and stand up for himself and teammates during a crisis.

Most observers would consider Wilson a much better prospect than Gabbert right now. Don't lie: If you heard that your team drafted Wilson in the third round, you would be pleased, but if you heard that your team traded a third-round pick for Gabbert, you would howl about trading for a retread. That's despite the fact that both are coming off losing seasons for nightmare teams, and despite the fact that Wilson is actually two months older.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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