It was a packed house attending Southern Methodist University’s pro-day this past Friday March 28th. Myself along with twenty-five NFL teams (including the Dallas Cowboys), two Canadian Football League teams (Hamilton Tiger Cats and BC Lions), and a three NFL quarterback coaches (Wade Wilson of the Cowboys, Rick Dennison of the Ravens, and the Eagles Bill Musgrave) witnessed a stellar workout by SMU’s quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
Gilbert threw roughly 89 passes and only three of them were incomplete. Two of those incompletions were over 50 yard passes to the left corner of the end zone which were overthrown, and one was over 50 yards to the right corner of the end zone which the WR dropped.
Gilbert is a big quarterback who was well spoken. I asked him afterwards how he thought his pro day went and he said, “It was a lot of fun. There were seventeen of us out here today, and we’ve been growing up together over the past few years. To see all of our hard work go well today was a lot of fun.” He continued, “Throwing-wise, coach (June) Jones did a heck of a job preparing me, and my wide receivers made some great catches. We had a good day out there today.”
Gilbert’s passes had substantial velocity and were very accurate; his wide receivers rarely having to break stride to catch the ball. In his pro day measurables, Garrett stood 6-foot-4 inches weighing 230 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 and 4.83 seconds, had a 29.5-inch vertical jump, a 9-foot-9 inch broad jump, ran the short shuttle in 4.43 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.30 seconds.
Garrett Gilbert was one of the most sought after high school quarterbacks coming out of Texas in 2008. He chose the University of Texas where he had a tough career, graduated in three years, and transferred to SMU in 2012. Gilbert was very positive about his head coach June Jones’ influence, as he strived to resurrect his career with the Mustangs.
SMU’s Jones said of Garrett’s workout Friday, “You know Garrett had three different offensive coordinators when he was at the University of Texas, so he never was in the same system. So, that’s a frustrating deal for any young kid. Then to get booed off the field at 19 years old, you’ve got some demons and that’s hard to overcome unless you’re older and more mature and you’ve been through it.” Jones continued, “But he learned a lot from it. He came here and got rid of those negative thoughts, and he’s where he needs to be to take the next step in the NFL.”
I caught up with Cowboys quarterback coach Wade Wilson right after Gilbert’s workout. I asked him what he thought and he said, “I was really impressed. He made all the throws. He has a very live arm. I think he did an outstanding job today.”
Just one day prior, Wilson attended Texas A&M’s pro day in College Station, so I asked him how Gilbert’s workout compared to highly touted quarterback prospect Johnny Manziel, and he said chuckling, “Well, it was a slightly different atmosphere here today. There wasn’t as many TV cameras and no ex-presidents.” (Referring to former President George H.W. Bush who attended Manziel’s workout.) Wilson continued, “But, I thought he did a really nice job making all the throws he needed to.”
Gilbert confirmed to me after the session that he received an invitation from the Cowboys to attend their annual Dallas Day workout on April 17th. He also told me he has private workouts scheduled with the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I think Gilbert really helped his draft stock this past Friday. He was not on many NFL radars, and in fact didn’t even get an invitation to the NFL combine. He has prototypical NFL QB size, possesses a big arm, and has NFL heritage growing up around pro football with his father Gale Gilbert having played 11 seasons in the NFL while participating in five straight Super Bowls.
With the Cowboys recently signing quarterback Brandon Weeden, some may be skeptical that the Cowboys would pursue another QB. But, it’s important to note that there is little to no financial commitment on behalf of Dallas to Weeden. I believe if Gilbert were brought in to compete for a backup quarterback role, he would compete well and will surprise many with his talent.
Follow Matt Thornton on Twitter: @MattsCowboys