Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert: Big arm, great hair

The quarterbacks keep coming here in Indianapolis. Here’s Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, a likely top-10 pick the Niners are no doubt examining closely here in Indianapolis:

BLAINE GABBERT, MISSOURI

For starters, there is the matter of Gabbert’s hair. It is blonde and long and wavy. As he spoke, a reporter in front of me turned to another and, looking into the future, muttered something about a “hair deal.”

Trust me, everyone admires/envies this young man’s locks. Take Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, for example, who had a ready response when asked why he recently started growing his hair out.

“Yeah, kind of look like Blaine Gabbert,” Ponder said, smiling. “He looks good. He’s going to be a top-10 pick in the draft, might as well look like him.”

Beyond his hair, Mr. Beautiful Potential Face of the Franchise has some other qualities that make him, um, attractive to NFL teams.

However, there are questions about the spread offense he played in at Missouri. The strong-armed, 6-foot-5 Gabbert acknowledged he was in shotgun “98 percent” of the time, but said Mizzou’s attack wasn’t simplistic and he routinely made three- and four-progression reads. He’s focusing on his footwork and his dropbacks at Athletes’ Performance in Phoenix.

Gabbert also won’t be throwing at the combine – waiting until his pro day on March 17 to unveil his arm. Gabbert’s agent, Tom Condon, advises his clients to not throw at the combine so they can throw in, as Gabbert put it, “a more controlled environment” on their pro days.

Gabbert had clearly been well-coached. He noted other Condon clients, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford among them, who did well in the draft despite not throwing at the combine. He also effortlessly ticked off three NFL rookies – Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow – who fared well this past season after playing in spread offenses in college. In addition, he was also clearly aware that quarterbacks who don’t throw at the combine can irritate NFL brass and raise is-this-guy-scared-to-compete questions. Gabbert, as if on cue, said, “I’m not afraid to compete.”

Gabbert has also been doing other homework. He said he’s spoken with NFL quarterbacks such as Eli Manning and Josh Freeman about what to expect at the next level.

Gabbert and Auburn’s Cam Newton — they met for the first time Thursday night — are likely locked in a battle to be the first quarterback drafted.

“We’re going to compete and fight for it,” Gabbert said, “and let the best man win.”

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