Columbia Gets a Piece of NFL Action for a Day

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COLUMBIA - Former Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert held his pro day at Mizzou on Thursday.  He and coaches share their thoughts on the day.

At first, some questioned Blaine Gabbert's decision to turn pro a year early.

But few are doubting him now.

In this weeks edition of Blumberg Off the Bench, Eric tells us how Gabbert made Mizzou the center of the NFL's attention for at least one day .

Combine NFL coaches, national media attention and the possible top pick in the 2011 draft, and it's an unusual combination.

"You're sitting out here and it's real quiet. It's like someone is doing surgery out here. He's a competitor. It's a challenge for him and he did a great job," Coach Gary Pinkel said.

Blaine Gabbert used surgeon-like precision to complete almost all of his passes.

"It's football. This is the easy stuff. Working out is the hard stuff," Gabbert said.

Mizzou assistant coach Barry Odom told me pro days have changed a lot since he was a player. Back then, It was two scouts, two players and crickets.

"Stories about a couple pro days when a lot of people weren't here. The crowds changing and people having to wear wrist bands to get in," Aldon Smith said.

"Great atmosphere not only for myself and every other player that was participating here today, but also for our coaching staff, our current Mizzou players, this university, this state. It's cool to have all these NFL coaches, general managers here. Put Mizzou on the map," Gabbert explained.

And NFL coaches know where to find Gabbert: in the front of the draft.

"He had some really good coaching here at Mizzou and no doubt about it he's a terrific player and a great young guy, too. I think he gets it. Does what it takes to be successful...maybe get a chance to coach him some day," said San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.

"Everybody has the possibility of going number one overall. I'm going to be happy with whoever picks me," Gabbert said.

ESPN's Todd McShay has spent the last 12 years scouting college players. He says Blaine Gabbert isn't a top tier quarterback, but he isn't far behind.

"Where he excels from everyone else in this class is football intelligence and accuracy, but still somehow I think he's a little bit underrated at this point in the process and maybe a little bit underrated overall," McShay said.

Gabbert spent the last 10 weeks preparing for this show with his personal coach Terry Shea.

"It's amazing what he tells himself and how he handles himself when he misses a throw or he's a little bit off. He's a fierce competitor. He chases perfection," Shea said.

And now NFL teams are chasing him.

"He's got a great future ahead of him. He'll have his ups and downs. That's part of the position, but he's got all the ingredients I think to be a great, great player. I think a lot of people recognize that and that's why a lot of people are here," Coach Pinkel said.

"It became a pretty easy decision. This is a kid's dream. Everybody wants to have this opportunity and I had that today," Gabbert said.

 The NFL draft starts on Thursday, April 28 in New York City.