Gabbert: May Best Quarterback Win

Missouri's Blaine Gabbert is diplomatic when asked about his battle with Auburn's Cam Newton. Also from the Combine, Gabbert and Greg McElroy will not throw on Sunday but Christian Ponder will after an audible.

INDIANAPOLIS – There would be no Gabe Carimi moments from Blaine Gabbert.

Missouri's Gabbert is battling Auburn's Cam Newton to be the first quarterback off the board in April's draft. While Carimi flat-out said he's the best offensive lineman in the draft on Thursday, Gabbert wouldn't provide any such juicy nuggets at the Scouting Combine on Friday at Lucas Oil Field.

"I think that's what you guys are making it out to be, kind of me vs. Cam," said Gabbert, who will not throw during Sunday's position drills. "But it's just an opportunity for us to get drafted as high as possible. I know Cam, Ryan (Mallett of Arkansas) and Jake (Locker of Washington) are all working to be the No. 1 guy. And it's going to be a fun next few months."

Among the top-tier quarterbacks, only Gabbert and Locker addressed reporters, with Newton and Mallett expected to do so on Saturday. Newton accounted for 50 touchdowns en route to winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Auburn to the national championship. Gabbert accounted for 48 scores in his two seasons as the Tigers' starter. While acknowledging Newton's tools he wasn't about to concede anything.

"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 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."

Locker wasn't any better if controversy or headlines were what you were looking for, saying that each of the top quarterbacks has his own strength. What wasn't Locker's strength was his accuracy, with 56.6 percent accuracy after electing to come back for his senior season. That's a knock he is eager to prove wrong.

"I think that to be able to bring good character into a locker room, somebody that guys can trust and believe in," Locker said when asked to provide a self-scouting report. "And then I also believe that I also have the opportunity to kind of improvise, create with my legs and extend plays, give guys the opportunity to work downfield. One thing -- it's no secret, I don't think to anybody -- moving in the pocket and throwing in the pocket is something that I'm working on and will continue to work on."

Florida State's Christian Ponder, who is challenging Mallett to be the fourth quarterback off the board, was slowed by elbow and shoulder problems as a senior, which sent his draft stock sliding. He bounced back with a MVP performance at the Senior Bowl. He'll throw on Sunday; he had been advised not to throw but said the "competitor" in him made him call an audible after learning only he and Gabbert would not be throwing.

"I really think I'm the whole package at quarterback," Ponder said. "I'm pretty accurate and can make all the throws. Intelligence is a huge advantage for me, being able to comprehend offenses and defenses. We ran a complex offense at Florida State and I think it will carry over well to the NFL. I'm athletic enough to move in the pocket and make plays with my feet."

It turns out Gabbert won't be the only quarterback resting his throwing arm on Sunday. Alabama's Greg McElroy has a broken bone in his throwing hand near his index finger. He said he'll have the cast removed on Monday but will need "extensive rehab" that likely will bar him from throwing at his pro day on March 9.

"After about 17 physicals today, I realize I have a fractured second metacarpal, which if you can believe that's what I knew two weeks ago," McElroy said. "I'm running this week. I'm going to do everything I possibly can. That's the competitor in me. I want to be out there. It's driving me nuts watching these guys getting better and I'm kind of sitting here on the sideline."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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