Let’s begin this with a painful confession. If the Carolina Panthers were diligently reading and following my mock drafts last spring, they would have taken Blaine Gabbert with the first overall pick in the draft, passing on Cam Newton. Please excuse me while I throw up a little.
Now, I was fully aware that the Panthers would never pass on Newton for, well, anyone. But like any good mock drafter, I was prognosticating what the Panthers should do, not what they were going to do. I wasn’t the only one either, with many educated draft guessers trusting Gabbert, the better pure passer, over Newton, the more unproven passer and better athlete.
Eight games later it’s clear that myself and others were wrong about Newton, and wrong about Gabbert. But the majority of mock drafts still at the very least had Gabbert remaining in the top 10, showing that there was confidence in his skillset and ability to succeed in an NFL offense. Gabbert narrowly held on to that top 10 position, coming off the board at 10th overall after Jacksonville traded up.
Those who thought Gabbert was the top quarterback in the 2011 draft were tragically wrong, and that’s little more than another whiff during mock season. What’s staggering, though, is that at the pace he’s setting, Gabbert’s more than just the worst rookie first-round quarterback of 2011 so far.
If we were to re-draft, there’s a strong possibility that he wouldn’t be a first-round quarterback at all, and through six starts and seven appearances he’s only marginally better–and in many categories, worse–than a second-round failure from 2010.
That quarterback’s name is Jimmy Clausen.
In his breakdown of the worst game on this week’s schedule, Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty couldn’t hide his depression while discussing Gabbert and his matchup against Indy’s Curtis Painter. Sure, it’s early for Gabbert, but he’s had enough time in an offense supported by Maurice Jones-Drew’s running that we should begin to see some signs of the arm that made him a prized draft commodity.
In numerical form, Daugherty showed that we’ve seen quite the opposite:
There’s really no way to sugarcoat just how bad Gabbert has been. If Clausen’s 2010 set the modern standard for quarterback futility, Gabbert could be pushing for a new benchmark this season. Consider:
-His quarterback rating of 62.0 is dead last in the NFL and 4.5 points worse than Rex Grossman’s. Gabbert could double his rating and it still wouldn’t match Aaron Rodgers’ 129.1 mark.
-He’s averaging 129.6 yards per game, 41.4 fewer than anybody else.
-His 5.24 yards per attempt is 0.49 worse than anybody else’s.
-His 45.7 completion percentage is 7.6 percent worse than anybody else’s.
The Clausen comparison is the most damning. Last year in 10 starts Clausen’s 52.5 completion percentage put him ahead of only Derek Anderson, and pushed the Panthers to draft Newton instead of addressing their defense with someone like Patrick Peterson or Von Miller.
Gabbert’s completion percentage (45.7) is worse. With no other option in Jacksonville, he’s easily in line to start the remainder of the season barring an injury, so he’ll match and exceed Clausen’s start total. With the exception of passing touchdowns, Gabbert’s numbers at the end of 2011 may not be much better than the putrid line posted by Newton’s backup in 2010:
|Completion %||QB rating||Passing Yards||Passing TD||INT||Sacks||Fumbles|
|Jimmy Clausen (2010)||52.5||58.4||1,558||3||9||33||9|
|Blaine Gabbert (2011)||45.7||62.0||1,814*||10*||8*||38*||14|
*Projected for 2011 based on current pace
The easy and reasonable out for Gabbert is that he’s played three top 10 passing defenses in his six starts (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati), and three top 10 pass rushes (Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh), and there was a first half monsoon during one of his starts.
Still, those aren’t the numbers of a top 10 pick regardless of the opponent. Gabbert’s had four games when he’s completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and two that were below 40. It won’t get easier either, with the Jaguars’ next three opponents after this week (Cleveland, Houston, San Diego) also among the top 10 passing defenses.
When Luke McCown was first demoted prior to Week 3, we were aware of the struggle likely facing Gabbert due to Jacksonville’s schedule and his supporting cast, and wrote that merely being adequate would be sufficient.
Gabbert hasn’t even met that low bar yet.