March 17, 2011
Columbia, Mo. -
By Chelsea Harlan
Mizzou Athletic Media Relations
Mizzou’s Devine Pavilion was a hotbed for NFL and media activity on Thursday afternoon as the Tiger football program’s annual Pro Day took place. Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert was the source of most of the attention as well over 400 people – including 125 NFL personnel – observed the annual affair at Mizzou, including ESPN’s Todd McShay and a full crew from the NFL Network and NFL Films.
“It’s a great atmosphere, not only for myself, but every other player participating here today,” Gabbert said. “It’s cool to have all these NFL coaches and general managers here. It’s putting Mizzou on the map.”
Gabbert did not participate in throwing drills in the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine under the guidance of Creative Artists Agency, a sports agency based out of St. Louis. His hidden throwing arm left scouts eager to observe his potential for the draft. All 32 NFL teams lined up Thursday to get a piece of the Gabbert action, including head coaches from the Denver Broncos (John Fox), Cincinnati Bengals (Marv Lewis), Tennessee Titans (Mike Munchak), New York Jets (Rex Ryan), San Francisco 49ers (Jim Harbaugh) and Minnesota Vikings (Leslie Frazier). NFL Hall of Famer John Elway was on hand as well representing the Broncos.
Coach Gary Pinkel believes that his quarterback has what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
“He’s got all of it: a great kid, a great work ethic, arm release, tough mentally and physically. That’s why he’s got everyone here today, he’s got all those things,” Pinkel said. “This year his leadership jumped. He’s got a lot of leadership qualities. Players like playing for him and they like being around him. He leads in many different ways.”
Independent quarterback coach, Terry Shea, spent 10 weeks preparing Gabbert for Pro Day at a training facility in Phoenix. Shea focused on improving his footwork and training him to receive a snap from under-center.
“Taking a center snap is not going to be a problem. He’s got good strength in his lower body. He separates from center very well,” Shea said.
Commotion around the NFL lockout has people contemplating if there will even be a National Football League season this fall. Gabbert doesn’t see the current situation as cause for concern. He is confident that they’ll work things out and reach an agreement.
The NFL lockout prevented the use of current NFL players in Pro Day, which left Shea to pick from only draft-eligible college receivers. He chose players from five universities in Missouri: Northwest Missouri State, William Jewell, Southwest Baptist, Lindenwood and Central Missouri.
Select players that performed well received unplanned attention and looks. Wide receiver, Jamorris Warren from Central Missouri, was one of those players. He plans to catch for Gabbert again later in the week when the head coach and general manager of the Arizona Cardinals comes to see Gabbert.
“The main thing I wanted to do was make them see that I’m a guy that should be on their board and hopefully I did that today,” Warren said.
To showcase his skills, Gabbert threw 49 official passes scripted by Shea. Out of 49 passes, 44 were completed.
“I missed a dig, I missed that deep ball down the sideline. That's going to happen. It's pretty hard to be accurate at 65 yards. You're going to hit about one out of every eight of those.”
Gabbert has officially been invited to New York for the 2011 NFL Draft in April, although it’s still uncertain whether or not players will be allowed to attend due to the current NFL lockout.
Aldon Smith – who is also a projected first round pick in the NFL Draft - was among other Tigers to compete at Pro Day. Jarrell Harrison, Kevin Rutland, Carl Gettis, Tim Barnes, Andrew Gachkar and Jasper Simmons also showcased their skills on Thursday. Rutland, who participated in the NFL Combine in February, helped his stock today, thanks to a speedy 40-yard dash time unofficial time of 4.43.
Here’s some thoughts from those former Tigers on how their day went…
Mizzou Pro-Day Quotes
On how he thinks he did at Pro-Day …
“I think I did pretty well. I just wanted to come out and compete in all the drills and show the scouts that I can improve and help their football team. Hopefully after this, a few teams are impressed and want to check me out a little more - we’ll see. I’m just playing the waiting game now. I’m not in the position of a Blaine or an Aldon, so I have to come out here and work every day.”
On what he needs to work on…
“I could still work on some of the position drills, and some of the things the coaches want to see like the L-Cone and the short shuttle. Drills like that are side to side movements instead of straight ahead. I focus on this things like that, I’ll be fine.”
On the difference between Pro-Day and the combine. . .
“I like it. You have a thousand scouts out here, head coaches, a smaller group but I enjoy this better because I’m out here with guys I know like Jarrell Harrison and Carl Gettis, guys I’ve played with in this facility. I’ve been in for five years now and I’m used to these things so I enjoy this time. It’s a lot more comfortable.”
On how Pro-Day went. . . .
“I think everything went well. It was good to be out here in front of everybody; you guys, my teammates, everybody. I think everything went well.”
On participating in Pro-Day with the uncertainty of the NFL Lockout. . .
“Not necessarily, you have to come out here and participate. This matters no matter what happens or goes down, this matters. People in the NFL have done the same thing you’ve done and they took it seriously, so I think you should take it as serious as they took it.”
On feelings toward being told not to participate in the draft. . .
“I think for some it might [be tough], but I haven’t gotten an invitation, so whenever that happens I’ll have to consider everything. Everybody who went there before you and shook hands with Roger Goodell and everything like that, it’s a special moment for anybody just making that transition.”
On his weight for football. . .
“I always played the same around 256-257. I weighed 265 today. It depends on the system I’m going into, if I’m going into a 3-4 this weight is fine, I think if I go into a 4-3 and play defensive end, I’ll probably gain five pounds.”
On moving up from projected second round to first round. . .
“Hard work, I think they have seen the hard work. I think the combine and the Pro-Day have moved me to the first round.”
On the rise of attendance at Mizzou Pro-Day . . .
“I think it’s great to see. I’ve heard stories about a couple of Pro-Days where there were not a lot of people here. The crowd has changed and now you have to have people wearing wristbands to get in. I think it’s amazing to see what players like Chase Daniel, me, Blaine, and the people before us can do and where they are now.”
On being projected to being drafted by the Rams. . .
“I think that would definitely be cool. It’s definitely a place to bring it, and I’m from Missouri so that would help out and make the transition smoother.”
On being nervous for Pro-Day. . .
“No, not at all. This is football and it’s fun. We’ve been working for 10 weeks to prepare for this and now it was our time to show everybody, show the coaches, show the media that we’ve worked hard and that we’ve all made that transition into the NFL. This is the easy stuff, working out is the hard stuff. Today was our day to go out here and show the teams what we’ve been working on for the past 10 weeks and prove that we can do it in the NFL. I think you guys were more nervous then I was to see what I was going to do. I was ready to go out there and throw the football around and have some fun.”
On his footwork. . .
“They all thought it went very well. Footwork’s not that hard. I’ve been working on it all along, showing everyone that I can do it and I thought I did a pretty good job at it today.”
On the biggest question that he answered at Pro-Day. . .
“Threw the football from under center, that’s the biggest thing the coaches wanted to see. That transition, taking the five, seven, three step drops from under center. Like I said I nailed all my drops today.”
On which teams he enjoyed talking to. . .
“Everybody. I think all 32 teams were represented today and everybody had a chance to meet with them and say hello. That was good just associating ourselves with all the coaches. Coach (Rex) Ryan’s a great guy and the biggest thing he said was just have fun and be a kid everyday or you’re not going to be successful and you’re not going to excel, and that’s the mindset he takes. He told Mark just have fun everyday and you’re going to get better, you’ll be fine.”
On passes he wishes he could take back. . .
“I missed a dig and I missed a deep ball down the sidelines, that’s going to happen. It’s pretty hard to be accurate at 65 yards/ You’re going to hit about one out of every eight of those. I missed it by a few yards but that’s fine. I overthrew him a little bit.”
On working with new receivers. . .
“It wasn’t a challenge at all. Those guys are high level football players, and they are extremely talented. They are fast in and out of breaks. They showcased to a lot of teams that they’re very skilled. [Jamarrus Warren] is a stud - I think he had like 1,600 receiving yards last year and 20 touchdowns. He came out and had a hell of a day today, made a bunch of one-handers on that comeback and he definitely showcased his skills.”
On going to the draft. . .
“It would be a special moment for anybody. It’s a kid’s dream going to the draft, but they are going to work things out I’m confident. The draft is a month and a half away, they are going to reach an agreement. I’m willing to do whatever and I’m just happy to have an opportunity.”