Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QB contrast: Spread offense vs. Pro style
It’s been a busy day here in Indianapolis. I hope you’ve been able to keep up with the updates I’ve been posting on Twitter. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan just finished meeting with reporters, and I’ll get to that in another post ASAP.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton’s media availability apparently has been postponed until tomorrow, which lightens today’s load. However, we did hear from two highly-regarded quarterback prospects the Redskins will evaluate this weekend: Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert and Florida State’s Christian Ponder.
Those two present an intriguing contrast, one that we’ll be considering for years as the spread offense continues to become more prevalent in college.
Gabbert played in a spread offense, mostly out of the shotgun, in college. Ponder played in more of a pro-style offense under center at FSU. Gabbert is widely regarded as one of the top two or three quarterbacks in this draft class based on his physical tools; in other words, most analysts are not holding his college offense against him.
Ponder, meanwhile, might be more NFL-ready from the standpoint of reading defenses and making checks, but he has to assuage concerns about his health/durability in order to jump into the top of the second round.
Their perspectives on their respective preparedness interested me. First, Ponder:
“I’m the whole package as a quarterback,” he said. “I have great accuracy. I’m able to make all the throws. I think the intelligence is a huge advantage for me. We ran a complex offense at Florida State, so I think that’s going to carry over well to the NFL. I’m athletic enough to move in and out of the pocket and make plays with my feet.
“We ran multiple formations, had a ton of different pass protections at Florida State. I did a lot of checking at the line. Just talking to scouts already, a lot of stuff they do we’ve already done at Florida State. I think it’s a huge advantage for me.”
Gabbert, meanwhile, doesn’t believe he’s limited by Missouri’s offense.
“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. That’s what I’ve been working on and focusing on [in pre-combine training.] I’ve done a great job so far and haven’t seen a problem one bit.
“Play-action is an extremely important part of our offense while we were at Mizzou, albeit we were in the shotgun. But you see guys like Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow—I can go on and on and on about these spread quarterbacks in college that have had early success in the NFL.”
It’s an interesting dilemma for NFL teams, especially this season, when readiness could be at a premium if a lockout eliminates offseason programs and minicamps.
I actually figured out how to upload my video of Gabbert’s entire media session, so I’ve embedded it below. Ask yourself the question that NFL teams, including the Redskins, will be asking themselves this weekend: Does he seem like a franchise QB to you?