Thursday, April 28, 2011

Missouri's Blaine Gabbert prepares for NFL Draft

Former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert laughs with his former teammates during the spring NCAA college football scrimmage game Saturday, April 16, 2011, in Columbia. Mo.

Bev Gabbert is controlling what she can.

For the most part, it’s life as usual. There’s laundry to do. There are granola bars and Gatorade to pack, snacks for her youngest son, 10-year-old Brett Gabbert. And there’s a trip to plan, coordinating flights to New York for five people.

For Bev Gabbert, that’s all it is right now: a trip to New York. The NFL Draft and what looms beyond for her oldest son, Blaine Gabbert, are a lot to think about, and she’s focused on getting to that point.

For the Gabbert family, the past few months have been an adjustment. They’ve been strange, Bev Gabbert said, but time is moving too fast for her to appreciate how special it's been. She’s now accustomed to seeing her son interviewed almost daily on ESPN. She’s not surprised when she hears speculation that he will be one of the first players picked in the NFL Draft. Somehow, it’s all become normal.

“It’s been awesome,” Bev Gabbert said about the experience. “You wish everybody could experience it. We’ve all been very lucky.”

But for Blaine Gabbert, it’s been a lot more than luck. It’s been months spent training with quarterback coach Terry Shea at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix. It’s been support from his family and former teammates. It’s been pro days and the NFL Combine and countless TV appearances.

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Several other former Missouri players will likely be selected in the NFL Draft or will sign as undrafted free agents afterwards. 

Aldon Smith
Smith, a defensive end, is a projected first-round pick. He has worked out for 12 teams, and some likely candidates to select Smith include the Dallas Cowboys (ninth pick overall), Houston Texans (11), Minnesota Vikings (12), St. Louis Rams (14) and Jacksonville Jaguars (16). Smith was one of three Tigers (Blaine Gabbert and Kevin Rutland were the others) invited to the NFL combine in February. Like Gabbert, Smith was one of 25 prospects invited to New York for the draft.

Kevin Rutland
Rutland, a cornerback who was invited to the combine and worked out at Missouri's pro day, is projected to be drafted in a late round or sign as an undrafted free agent.

Tim Barnes
Barnes, a center, has been projected as anywhere from a fourth-round selection to a priority free agent. He has met with teams including the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens.

Andrew Gachkar
Gachkar, a linebacker, has worked out for the Kansas City Chiefs and has been contacted by other teams. He is projected to sign as an undrafted free agent.

Carl Gettis, another cornerback, and Jarrell Harrison, a safety, are also entering their names into the draft, but will most likely have to sign as undrafted free agents.

TV COVERAGE: The draft will be broadcast on NFL Network and ESPN/ESPN2. The first round of the draft is set to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, followed by the second and third rounds at 5 p.m. Friday. Rounds four through seven will be held starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.