By MaxPreps' Mitch Stephens
The difference between the recruiting process heading into college and the NFL draft whirlwind is distinct and simple, Blaine Gabbert said.
"It's absolute role reversal," the Missouri quarterback told MaxPreps on Wednesday. "When you're being recruited, everyone is trying to impress you. When you enter the draft, you're the one trying to impress."
By all accounts, Gabbert has done all the right things heading into tonight's first day of the three-day NFL draft extravaganza. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior declared early and is projected among the top five selections overall and perhaps as high as No. 3.
He showed well athletically at the NFL combine – 4.62 40-yard dash and 33.5-inch vertical jump - and wooed NFL coaches with his strong right arm at Pro Day on the Missouri campus.
Calm, personable and articulate, he spoke well during numerous character exams, and scored an impressive 42 in the infamous 12-minute, 50-question Wonderlic Test that grades cognitive ability. A score of 20 is considered average, 30 is impressive and 40 or more is outstanding.
Gabbert had the second-highest tally released among NFL prospects and was well above the average QB score of 24.
He was even more impressive in the much-publicized ESPN Quarterback Camp spot with Jon Gruden that featured Gabbert and other projected first-round picks Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, Andy Dalton and Jake Lockner.
"That was a blast," Gabbert said. "Coach Gruden is so passionate and his enthusiasm is so contagious. It was a great opportunity to sit down with a Super Bowl-winning coach who knows so much about the quarterback position in the league."
Beyond selling himself the last two months, on Wednesday he sold Missouri high school football.
While Texas, Florida and California kids get their due on NFL Draft and National Signing Day, the Show-Me State doesn't typically show. Gabbert, who starred at Parkway West (Ballwin, Mo.), begged to differ.
"Missouri is a great football and basketball state," he said. "A lot of great athletes come out of there."
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