SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert has a wonderful opportunity to showcase his skills in a workout for pro scouts this Friday in Dallas. For a college quarterback, a 40-minute passing session where all of the possible pass routes are executed is the Super Bowl of the pre-draft scouting process. In previous columns we've covered the training regimen, all-star games, and scouting combine -- the pro scouting day at college campuses is the final opportunity for most players to enhance their draft status.
Normally these days are held in March and early April on campuses across the country. The draft has been moved back to May 8, the latest ever, so there may be private sessions and workouts for certain players after pro day. Players are weighed and measured. They can perform the same seven drills done at the combine:
1) 40-yard dash
2) 225-pound bench press
3) vertical leap
4) broad jump
5) a three-cone drill
6) the pro shuttle
7) the long shuttle.
This is the opportunity for players who were not invited to the combine to compete. It also may be used by players who did not choose to perform at the combine or were dissatisfied by their numbers. These measureables can elevate or diminish player evaluations greatly.
Garrett Gilbert went through a fairly normal quarterback developmental curve in the early years. It takes time to master the position. The more a quarterback is able to play, the better his decision making and reading of defenses will get. Gilbert was put in a difficult situation early in his career at Texas, and those memories have unfortunately colored a clear view of his current status. Freshman quarterback success for Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Florida State's' Jameis Winston and UCLA's Brett Hundley are the aberration. Very often, it starts to come together for a college quarterback his junior year and then he flourishes dramatically in his senior year.
Fortunately the draft is a projection of what a player's performance will be during the next 10-12 years, not a merit badge for stalwart college performance.
Beginning in game six of his junior year, Gilbert showed his franchise quarterback potential. If you viewing the film of that year and a half, he matches up very competitively with the top quarterbacks in this years' draft. He has great size at 6-4, 225 pounds, which is important in absorbing the hits in the NFL. He has the best football sense and instincts of any quarterback in the draft. Coach June Jones, a recognized quarterback guru, schooled him well. Jones worked with Jim Kelly, Warren Moon and many prolific quarterbacks throughout his coaching career. Garrett's father, Gale, was a 12-year player in the NFL, who went to five Super Bowls. Garrett has good arm strength, and deceptive speed, which allows him the ability to run effectively.
When then-UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman threw in front of coach Jimmy Johnson, it cemented his status as the top pick in the draft and Dallas selected him. When Jeff George threw brilliantly at Illinois in 1990, it was termed "The $15 Million Dollar Workout Video" because that was his contract as the first pick of the Colts. This tradition has continued. During the past 40 years, I have represented franchise quarterbacks like Steve Bartkowski, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, Jake Plummer, Mark Brunell and Ben Roethlisberger. I know what a young franchise quarterback looks like: He looks like Garrett. Gilbert will wow the scouts with his talent in a workout run by Coach June Jones. Keep your eye on the way his stock rises.
-- Leigh Steinberg, who represents Garrett Gilbert, has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.