2011 NFL Combine: Transcript of Blaine Gabbert's Interview

Reading these interviews is always pretty funny to me.  They asked Gabbert about five different times how different it is taking snaps from under center and about his decision not to throw at the combine.  Just like Jake Locker, Gabbert has obviously been coached very well on how to answer questions.  Here is my favorite answer from the interview:

--what does it take to be a successful quarterback in the NFL-

It takes more than what it did in college. Talking to guys that played at high levels in college. I talked to Eli Manning, Josh Freeman, of course Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford. These guys were extremely successful in college but it takes more in the NFL. It's a full-time job and I realize that and I know that. And the best thing about me is I love the game of football. That's been my goal _ to only do football. And I'm going to be in the film room; going to be in the weight room just preparing as hard as possible.

Full transcript after the jump.

--could you have imagined being what looks like a sure top 10 pick and possibly the first QB taken when last season started?-

Going into last season I definitely had goals to reach. And one of those was having the opportunity to enter the NFL draft. Throughout the season, I never focused on that won bit. I was more worried about winning football games for my Missouri team. At the end of the season I had to make that decision, and of course, I did make myself eligible for the draft and I'm happy where I'm at right now.

--do you have an awareness of where you might go-

Of course, there's speculation. But at the end of the day it's out of my control. I've still got to go out there and perform at a high level and still work as hard as possible.

--excited about the possibility of going so high?-

There's no question. I'm ecstatic. This opportunity doesn't come around very often. It's a once in a lifetime chance, and I'm going to make the most of it and just have fun doing it.

--agent Tom Condon and CAA don't have their QBs throw at the Combine, are you OK with that?-

Yeah, I'm with Tom Condon of Creative Artists. Tom's philosophy in the past is not throwing quarterbacks at the Combine. And I trust him with his advice. We have a plan set up and I'll be throwing at my Pro Day March 17.

--what are you hoping to show this week without throwing the ball-

The biggest thing is the interview process. That's so instrumental in drafting a quarterback. You've got to show that you're smart. You've got to be able to show that you're smart on the board. Be able to talk in person. And then of course doing the running drills. Hopefully, I'll run a good 40 and test well in all the other running events.

--what do you point to when teams ask you about your leadership characteristics?-

At Mizzou, we only had senior captains. But on offense and defense, I was a captain. Being a junior, being the quarterback you're the spotlight, and you have to lead your team to victory. You're the vocal leader on that football team. That was the biggest thing I did at Mizzou.

--talk about your friendship with Christian Ponder working out this offseason in Arizona-

 

Christian's an awesome guy. We've become really good friends. And just having another quarterback out there to relate to, as well, really helps the whole process. Just bouncing ideas off of him, working out together. And then we have some of the same interests off the field. We've gone fishing a few times at a few mountain lakes up there, so we have a close bound and we're good buds.

--you vs. Cam Newton at top of QB board-

I think that's what you guys are making it out to be, kind of me vs. Cam. But it's just an opportunity for us to get drafted as high as possible. I know Cam, Ryan, and Jake are all working to be the No. 1 guy. And it's going to be a fun next few months.

--how do you compare yourself to Cam-

Cam's an explosive athlete. You've seen what he has done at the college level. He's won a JUCO national championship, won the national championship at Division I level. He's been extremely successful, so he has all the talent in the world but we're going to compete and fight it out and may the best man win.

--more on deciding not to throw at the Combine.

It's been successful in the past. Of course, Sam had his injury, so he was only going to throw at his pro day. But Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, these guys have only selected to throw at their pro day, and they've been extremely successful in doing that. It's more of a controlled atmosphere, you have a script. I'm not shying away from competition or anything, but I'm just throwing at my pro day and that's really about it.

--how difficult was decision to come out-

It was difficult at first. But at the end of the day it became pretty black and white. After my bowl game, I sat down with my family and my coaching staff, and we made pros and cons for each situation. Leaving school early and coming back. The biggest thing that was important to me was finishing my degree out and I'm not very far away from getting my degree in finance. I'm gonna finish that sooner or later, but this opportunity was too great to pass up.

--have you talked to the Panthers?-

We had the informal interviews last night at the 'train station,' but other than that we have formal interviews set up for tonight and tomorrow.

--bowl game vs. Iowa, threw very well but then had costly interception at end of game-

Our offense, we were really clicking that game. Everything was working. We were seeing things before it happened. Our wide receivers did a wonderful job getting open, sitting in the zone. But at the end of the day, I made that crucial mistake, lost the football game. But I learned from that. I made that mistake, I'm going to move on from it.

--learning a new offense after playing in the spread at Mizzou-

I wouldn't necessarily say that the reads are different. We're not really a one-side read offense. We have three_ four-progression reads. Of course the footwork is different. We're in the shotgun about 98 percent of the time. So that's what I've been working on. That's what I focused on out at Athletes Performance in Arizona. My quarterback coach, coach Terry Shea, has made that an extremely important process that I have to work on. And I've done a great job so far and haven't seen a problem one bit.

--where do you think your strengths compare to other recent QBs in draft such as Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford-

Everybody has their own strength and weaknesses. Everybody's going to have a strong arm, they're going to be accurate. If we didn't have these characteristics, we wouldn't be in this position to play right now.

--how much have you studied what NFL teams need QBs-

Of course you see the teams that need quarterbacks in this draft. Anything can happen on draft day. Trades are likely to happen. People are going to fall. So you really don't know until you really get your name called in New York.

--how are your mechanics on play-action-

Play action is an extremely important part of our offense at Mizzou, albeit we were in the shotgun. But you see guys like Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Tim Tebow. I could go on and on and on about these spread quarterback who've had early success in their careers in the NFL.

--what does it take to be a successful quarterback in the NFL-

It takes more than what it did in college. Talking to guys that played at high levels in college. I talked to Eli Manning, Josh Freeman, of course Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford. These guys were extremely successful in college but it takes more in the NFL. It's a full-time job and I realize that and I know that. And the best thing about me is I love the game of football. That's been my goal _ to only do football. And I'm going to be in the film room; going to be in the weight room just preparing as hard as possible.

--which teams have you talked to so far-

We talked to everybody. Like I said last night was the informal interviews so we kind of walked around really got to know every coach.

--do you think enough spread QBs have succeeded in the NFL so that's not much of a hurdle-

There's no question. Tim Tebow. The knock on him was he was a 100 percent shotgun quarterback. And he started the last few games at Denver, had success. Sam. Same way. He was in shotgun a lot in college. Colt McCoy, same way. These guys have had all success in their rookie seasons, so I really don't see the problem with being a spread quarterback in college, because if you're good, you're good, and you're going to play wherever.

--do you think your filmwork basically answers that question-

There's no question. I have all the confidence in the world in my abilities. 

--anything in particular that Bradford talked to you about as to how to handle this process-

You just got to have fun with it, and that's what I'm doing. Obviously, it's a blast being here in Indianapolis. It's a dream come true. And if you're doing something that's not fun, it's not worth doing it. So I'm having fun throughout this whole process, taking everything in stride and just getting better every day.

--how do you feel about being the face of the franchise wherever you go and the demands that go with that?-

It's an opportunity. I was the face at Missouri. Being the quarterback you're always in the spotlight. You're going to be living in the glass bubble. So you've got to be responsible on the field as well as off the field. You've got to watch every action you make. 

--how helpful has Terry Shea been working with you-

Coach Shea, he's an awesome coach and even a better person. He really relates to us on a personal level. He's coached, of course, Sam, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman. All these guy down the line have been coached by Coach Shea. He's done a wonderful job with me so far. And I know he's made those guys better quarterbacks as well.

--Shea has worked with you a lot on the footwork and the drops under center?---

Yeah, of course. Especially since I was in the shotgun a lot in college. That was a big part of this whole workout process, firming up my technique and drops from under center. 

--know Cam Newtown?-

I met Cam last night (Thurs.). We talked for a little bit, and that was the first time I met him.

--more on not throwing-how tough will it be on you if Cam has a great workout and moves him up in the conversation-

I don't think it's going to be tough at all. Of course, he may move up on the draft boards in your eyes, but I'm still going to go out there, have a great pro day. Still work my tail off. And like I said, nobody knows what's going to happen until draft day.

--Mizzou used some unusual formations offensively, is that an advantage to a QB-

The biggest thing for a quarterback in those formations, you've got to be able to throw the football down the field, to the sideline, because you are far away from receivers. That's what helped me a lot. We spread the football around, we didn't just dink and dunk. We threw it everywhere on the field.

--on throwing deep balls at Mizzou-

Yeah, that was an instrumental part of our offense, hitting the seams, hitting the verticals on the sideline. And that's how we beat teams. I had to make those throws. I was willing to make those throws. And I did make those throws. 

--on Mizzou C Tim Barnes, who did not get a Combine invitation-

Tim's a great center. I know he wishes he could've had the opportunity to be here. I know he's going to be an extremely successful offensive lineman at the next level because I've seen what he can do on the college football field. He's one of the best offensive linemen I've ever played with.

--when you were exploring your decision to turn pro early, did you look at the NFL and figure out who's going to be their QB in 2011-

That was definitely a big factor in my decision. You're looking at the top 15 teams, potentially 10 (of those) teams could use a quarterback. I know every quarterback in this draft looked at that _ not only me. So that was kind of a point that helped me make my decision. That's kind of why I decided to come out.

--because of that is it your expectation to be a starter on day one-

I'm going to go in with the mindset that I'm going to be the starter from Day 1. That's how quarterbacks have to be. You've gotta be the competitor that's going to go in there, work your tail off, fight for that starting job, and whatever the coaches at the destination deem necessary for us, we're going to be willing to do. If that's learning under a veteran quarterback for a few years or if that's starting from Day 1. We're going to compete to be the best quarterback possible.

--do you feel like your game would be ready if you go to a team that needs instant help?-

There's no question. As soon as I'm drafted, I'm going to be working to be a starting quarterback.

--on Mizzou DE Aldon Smith-

Aldon, he's a freak. I've known Aldon since high school. I've seen the transition he's made coming from a 220-pound d-end out of Kansas City, and now he's close to 270 pounds. And just seeing him play on the football field is pretty special. The things he can do for how big he is. It's pretty crazy to watch.

--why do you think you're the best QB in the draft-

I'm going to outwork everybody. That's how I was raised. But nothing's ever going to be given you in life. You've got to learn everything you get. That's kind of the mindset I've taken to football, the mindset I've taken to school. That you've got to work for what you get in life. That's why I'm never going to stop working, I'm never going to be outworked by anybody else.

--how much do you know about the situation at Carolina, and is it possible for you to go No. 1 overall?-

Anything's possible. Who knows? They could trade away from No. 1. Anything can happen on draft day. Bit if they are looking at a quarterback, I know they do have a few young quarterbacks on that roster. I know they are looking at somebody to solidify that position because at the end of the day the quarterback is there to win football games.

--what will you do at your Pro Day?-

I'm going to make every throw. There's no throw I'm going to shy away from. Comebacks, deep balls. Slants. Digs. Deep outs. Bang 8s. It'll be the whole spectrum of throws.

--what do you think about the prospect of a lockout, how it would affect your preparation for your rookie NFL season-

It would definitely be frustrating if there would be a lockout. But we don't know if there's going to be one. I'm sure they're going to reach an agreement sooner or later. And whenever they do reach an agreement, I'll be right in the playbook the next day.

--can you gauge the interest from Bengals-

Not necessarily. You've just got to go in every interview with the mindset that they need a quarterback. That they have the No. 1 draft pick. That's how you've got to approach every interview. You've got to be polite, be courteous, and show them what you can do on the football field.

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