He faced the media Friday at the scouting combine, and Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert knew the questions that would be coming. His agent, Tom Condon, had prepared him for whatever was to be thrown his way.
Whether it was his decision not to throw at the combine, his "competition" with Cam Newton, or making adjustments from the spread offense, Gabbert was ready with his answers.
But what really matters here is what he will do when he gets to an NFL team that will determine how good Blaine Gabbert will be. He knows that, too.
"I'm going to outwork everybody," Gabbert said, when asked why he believes he will be successful in the NFL. "That's how I was raised. But nothing's ever going to be given you in life. You've got to learn everything you get. That's kind of the mindset I've taken to football, the mindset I've taken to school. That you've got to work for what you get in life. That's why I'm never going to stop working, I'm never going to be outworked by anybody else."
The spread offenses run by colleges are making it more challenging to evaluate players, especially QBs. Read More >>
Condon represents numerous top NFL quarterbacks, and Gabbert has leaned on some for guidance. Asked what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback, he said simply, "It takes more than what it did in college. Talking to guys that played at high levels in college; I talked to Eli Manning, Josh Freeman, of course Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford. These guys were extremely successful in college, but it takes more in the NFL. It's a full-time job and I realize that and I know that. And the best thing about me is I love the game of football. That's been my goal -- to only do football. And I'm going to be in the film room; going to be in the weight room just preparing as hard as possible."
While there is so much talk about having played in a spread offense in college, Gabbert seems unfazed by the changes he'll have to make.
"I really don't see the problem with being a spread quarterback in college, because if you're good, you're good, and you're going to play wherever," he said.
Of course, he has been working in the offseason to become comfortable with the NFL-style game with tutor has been Terry Shea, who worked last year preparing Bradford for his Pro Day.
Estimating that he was in the shotgun 98 percent of the time at Missouri, Gabbert said in working on his footwork that Shea "made that an extremely important process that I have to work on, firming up my technique and drops from under center. And I've done a great job so far and haven't seen a problem one bit.
"Coach Shea, he's an awesome coach and even a better person. He really relates to us on a personal level. He's coached, of course, Sam, Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman. All these guys down the line have been coached by Coach Shea. He's done a wonderful job with me so far. And I know he's made those guys better quarterbacks as well."
Despite being the only quarterback that has elected not to throw at the combine, Gabbert is comfortable with that decision, which was made with input from Condon.
Said Gabbert, "Tom's philosophy in the past is not throwing quarterbacks at the combine. And I trust him with his advice. We have a plan set up and I'll be throwing at my Pro Day [on] March 17. Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, these guys have only elected to throw at their Pro Day, and they've been extremely successful in doing that. It's more of a controlled atmosphere, you have a script. I'm not shying away from competition or anything, but I'm just throwing at my Pro Day and that's really about it."
As for the perception that there is a competition with Newton to be the first quarterback selected, Gabbert smiled and said, "I think that's what you guys are making it out to be, kind of me vs. Cam. But it's just an opportunity for us to get drafted as high as possible. I know Cam, Ryan [Mallett] and Jake [Locker] are all working to be the No. 1 guy. And it's going to be a fun next few months."
Should Newton do well throwing, Gabbert won't be surprised if the buzz will increase about him.
"He may move up on the draft boards in your eyes, but I'm still going to go out there, have a great pro day, still work my tail off. And like I said, nobody knows what's going to happen until draft day," Gabbert said.
Then, when he was asked to compare himself to Newton, Gabbert let it slip that, yes, perhaps, there really is a competition.
"Cam's an explosive athlete," Gabbert said. "You've seen what he has done at the college level. He's won a JUCO national championship, won the national championship at the Division I level. He's been extremely successful, so he has all the talent in the world. But we're going to compete and fight it out and may the best man win."
Howard Balzer is Senior NFL Writer for NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange.