Fourth QB Possibilities: Gilbert

The high school phenom's rocky career ended with a strong senior season for SMU and an impressive pro day. He figures to be a candidate for the fourth quarterback that coach Mike McCarthy covets.

After one of the stranger college careers among this year's draft prospects, Garrett Gilbert is used to change and instability.

Gilbert, the son of eight-year NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert, was a high school All-American at Lake Travis who broke Graham Harrell's Texas prep record for single-season and career passing yardage. Garrett Gilbert's first appearance in the national spotlight for the Texas Longhorns came at the most inopportune time. Colt McCoy led Texas to an undefeated record in 2009 and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. McCoy was hurt on the first possession of the game, and it was Gilbert's game from there on out.

Gilbert looked nervous and threw a costly interception that was returned for a touchdown just before halftime that put Texas in a 24-6 hole. He rebounded nicely, throwing two touchdown passes to Jordan Shipley to make it 24-21. But Texas would not score again, as Gilbert threw four interceptions in a 37-21 verdict.

Gilbert came into the 2010 season as the starting quarterback but struggled, throwing 17 interceptions compared to just 10 touchdowns, as Texas went 5-7 en route to its first losing season since 1997. Early in the 2011 season, Gilbert was injured in a narrow win over BYU. He would never play for the Longhorns again. Gilbert transferred barely one month later to SMU. Because he earned his degree in three years, he was eligible to play for the Mustangs without sitting out a season.

After a few rocky years at Texas, Gilbert improved in each of his two seasons for SMU. After throwing 15 touchdowns and interceptions in 2012, Gilbert finished his career on a high note with 21 touchdowns against seven interceptions in his final season.

During the lead-up to the draft, there has been a lot of discussion on Teddy Bridgewater's poor pro day, and how that has led to his potential downward spiral of the draft board. The opposite has been true for Gilbert. He lit up his pro day, and it has been called by some analysts the best pro day a quarterback has had since Jeff George was entering the draft out of Illinois.

Gilbert has prototypical size, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 221 pounds. He has a cannon for an arm, which is why he was highly recruited coming out of high school. He can make all of the NFL throws, and displayed that at his pro day as well as throughout his career. Gilbert's velocity and touch on his deep ball will be appealing to a lot of NFL franchises.

The biggest knock against him has been his decision making and a tendency to be turnover prone at times. In his first game at Texas, albeit on the biggest stage against a powerful defense, he turned over the ball five times. He threw 17 interceptions at Texas in his only full season as a starter, and his decision to transfer from Texas did not come without controversy.

"Obviously, I didn't have as much success going to Texas as I expected," he told Sports Illustrated's Will Forbes. "I knew I was going to have surgery, so I just started shopping around, looking at some different schools."

Gilbert enters the NFL after an odd career that saw him playing for the national championship to being benched in favor of a freshman just two years later. He has been knocked around and fallen after being on the biggest stage in college sports. He transferred to a lower-profile school and is on the verge of the NFL as a likely Day 3 selection.

"I want teams to see that I'm as tough a competitor as there is, both physically and mentally," Gilbert said.

Gilbert is projected as a seventh-round pick by head NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas, with Thomas nothing that Gilbert has been rising in these final days before the draft. From a Packers standpoint, Gilbert could be a good fit in an offensive system that likes to stretch the field with its passing game.

A season ago, you saw how Packers coach Mike McCarthy could adapt and limit his downfield passing, with the limited arm strength of Matt Flynn. However, McCarthy loves taking shots down the field, and Gilbert excels at that. Gilbert is someone who has been at the top of the mountain, and been to the bottom. His resilience off the field could lead to quality leadership and other intangibles on the field.

If the Packers are looking for a fourth quarterback, they could look for a project like Gilbert that has shown the desire to work on his craft despite less-than-ideal circumstances.

Jacob Westendorf is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and an intern for Packer Report. E-mail him at Find Jacob on Twitter at

Packer Report Top Stories