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Is Blaine Gabbert a better NFL quarterback than Matt Barkley?

February 15, 2013|By Chuck Schilken
  • Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert has led the Jaguars to a 5-19 record in two seasons as a starter.
Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert has led the Jaguars to a 5-19 record… (Jim Rogash / Getty Images )

Blaine Gabbert would be the top pick in the 2013 NFL draft if he had stayed at Missouri a full five years rather than come out two years ago.

So says the man who has inherited him as his signal caller, new Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo. While many Jaguars fans are ready to pull the plug on Gabbert after two lackluster seasons, Scelfo seems to think the team's best young option at quarterback is the one already on its roster, rather than, say, West Virginia's Geno Smith or USC's Matt Barkley.

“If you graded him out right now, this is his draft class. If he were coming out and the quarterback draft class the way it is, would he be the top guy taken? I think the answer is yes," Scelfo told the Florida Times-Union.

“Ask the scouting departments and the general managers around the league and I think you would end up with a yes on that. Basically at his age, 23, the No. 1 pick in the draft with two years of experience already under his belt. That’s pretty good.’’

So, basically, the Jaguars already have the best pick out there even before drafting anyone with their No. 2 overall pick. Great for them!

There are, however, a couple of holes in Scelfo's theory. First of all, if we are going to play the hypothetical game, we should point out that Indianapolis Colts' star rookie Andrew Luck would also be a fifth-year senior right now as well. Don't think even Scelfo would see him as a lower pick than Gabbert through his rose-colored glasses.

But back to Scelfo's scenario. In his final year at Missouri, Gabbert completed 63.4% of his passes for 3,186 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions (as a sophomore he threw for 24 touchdowns but had a lower completion percentage).

This past season, Smith completed 71.2% of his passes for 4,205 yards with 42 touchdowns and six interceptions. Barkley completed 63.6% of his passes for 3,273 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions (of course, he was even better as a junior, when he completed 69.1% of his passes for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions).

Those numbers would seem to favor Smith and Barkley over Gabbert. But you never know how well a draft prospect will actually fare in the NFL. Except in Gabbert's case we do -- and so far it hasn't been great. In two seasons, he has completed 58.3% of his passes for 3,876 yards with 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a passer rating of 70.2. And, perhaps most importantly, he has led the Jaguars to a 5-19 record.

Will Gabbert grow as a quarterback with two tough years of experience under his belt? Or will Jacksonville be better off starting over with someone like Smith or Barkley? That's up to the Jaguars to decide -- and luckily they've got several months to think about it.

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