Jags likely to give Gabbert one more season to prove himself
New general manager David Caldwell has expressed his reluctance to give up on Gabbert, stating that he always felt the quarterback was a "long-term project." Caldwell has expressed some optimism in Gabbert since becoming the Jaguars' GM, noting his desire sustain some continuity. "I'm not completely discouraged with the quarterback on this team," Caldwell said. "Hopefully, we can have a little foundation here were we have the same system, and we'll see where it takes us." An interesting word in that statement is "completely," but it's obvious that Gabbert will have every shot to prove his value in Jacksonville.
This news conflicts with the heavy speculation that the Jaguars will be looking for a quarterback early in April's draft. With the first pick in the second round, the Jaguars will probably have an opportunity to draft one of the top quarterbacks in this draft class. However, they now appear more likely to target a quarterback in the middle rounds. Arizona's Matt Scott is one of the frontrunners, as he is a favorite of Jaguars' QB coach Frank Scelfo.
I'm not a big fan of this decision by the Jaguars to stick with Gabbert for another year. Gabbert has the tools to be a successful quarterback - arm strength and accuracy are what boosted his stock during the 2011 pre-draft process - but he severely lacks pocket presence and is often scared to step into his throws. Abilities such as accuracy and reading defenses can be taught, but feeling a pass rush and fearlessly stepping up in the pocket are instinctual traits that are extremely difficult to learn. I don't think that Gabbert will one day suddenly improve in those areas to the point where he can be a good starting quarterback.
Caldwell has also stated that he wants to hold a quarterback competition in training camp, so Gabbert will not simply be handed the starting job. Gabbert and Chad Henne are locks to be in the competition, while Caldwell would also like to add players "through the draft or through free agency." The aforementioned Matt Scott is a possibility in the draft, while a quarterback such as Jason Campbell could be a free agent option.