Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Blaine Gabbert was just 21 years old leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft, and after an impressive collegiate career at Missouri, he wasn’t sure where he’d end up.
He spent some time with the Titans leading up to the draft, and even visited Nashville. He knew joining the Titans was a possibility.
“The draft, it’s a crapshoot,” Gabbert recalled. “I remember getting the call back then and not knowing who it was.”
Gabbert ended up being drafted by the Jaguars with the 10th overall pick. The Titans picked quarterback Jake Locker a few spots earlier, with the eighth overall pick.
Seven years later, Gabbert is a Titan. He signed with the team in March, and today is preparing for the 2018 season after previous stops with the Jaguars (2011-13), San Francisco 49ers (2014-16) and Arizona Cardinals (2017).
“It’s been great,” Gabbert said. “And it’s been a fun process being able to work with all the new faces, me being new to the team.
“Coming on the visit (in March), having a chance to sit down with (GM) Jon Robinson and coach (Mike) Vrabel, and talking with (offensive coordinator) Matt (LaFleur) and (quarterbacks coach) Pat (O’Hara), and knowing the type of team that is here. … This team is super close to making a deep run and it has been a lot of fun.
“It’s a great locker room, great guys, and they’ve really built this team the right way from the top down.”
A seven-year veteran, Gabbert (6-4, 235) is in line to back up starting quarterback Marcus Mariota with the Titans. The team also drafted former Washington State quarterback Luke Falk in this year’s NFL Draft. Earlier this offseason the Titans parted ways with quarterback Matt Cassel, the team’s No.2 quarterback the previous two seasons.
Gabbert has started 45 games in his NFL career, completing 781-of-1,397 passes for 8,437 yards with 44 touchdowns and 43 interceptions in his career, with a 71.5 rating.
Gabbert started five games last season for the Cardinals, and he completed 95-of-171 passes for 1,086 yards, with six touchdowns and six interceptions, and a 71.9 rating. Gabbert also ran for 82 yards on 22 carries last season, and has 631 rushing yards in his career.
The reviews have been good this offseason.
“Blaine can rip the ball,” O’Hara said. “If you watch him in practice, he can rip the ball around the field. The arm talent is definitely there, and he is big and he is strong and he is fast. He has a lot of tools. There’s still a lot of upside with Blaine. He’s been a really good addition. And you always want your backup quarterback to have a good relationship with the starter and I think that relationship has really gotten positive over the last 10 weeks.”
Mariota said he’s enjoyed working with Gabbert. The two quarterbacks met following the Titans-Cardinals game in Arizona last December.
“Oh, it’s been great,” Mariota said.” To have a guy that again, has a great amount of playing experience, he’s played a lot of ball, has seen a lot of things, has been in a lot of different situations, to have a guy like that in your room that can always be that ear, or give you some advice, is huge. Again, I’m truly grateful. I think we’ve got a great room again.”
Gabbert noted the Titans are a different team than the one he remembers from back in 2011. Back then, Mike Munchak was the team’s head coach, Chris Palmer was the offensive coordinator and Dowell Loggains was the team’s quarterbacks coach.
He knows a handful of players on the team now.
And he’s enjoyed getting to know others.
“Marcus, he’s been great,” Gabbert said. “Everyone said nothing but great things about him, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with him. He’s a hard worker and he’s fun to be around.
“It’s a whole new team now. It’s totally different. … It’s been awesome. … It’s a good, talented locker room, and it’s a place where anybody would love to come and play.”