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In good hands


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Marvin Lewis believes Blaine Gabbert is in good hands.

Lewis, the Cincinnati Bengals' head coach, spent 2003-2010 with new Jaguars offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski when the latter served as the Bengals' offensive coordinator.

Now, one of Bratkowski's most important jobs is to help Gabbert – the Jaguars' second-year quarterback – develop into the franchise quarterback the team expected when they drafted him No. 10 overall this past April from the University of Missouri.

"I think he (Bratkowski) will have a good feel for what is important for a young quarterback," Lewis said of Bratkowski at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, scheduled to run through Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis.

Time will tell on Gabbert's development, but Lewis said Bratkowski's experience with young quarterbacks should help. With Lewis, Bratkowski helped develop Carson Palmer – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2003 NFL Draft by Cincinnati – into a Pro Bowl quarterback.

This past season, as the quarterbacks coach in Atlanta, Bratkowski worked with Matt Ryan, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.

"He's been in that situation a few times," Lewis said. "He was obviously in that situation in Cincinnati with a couple of different players. He goes to Atlanta and inherits a very good player in Matt Ryan, so he's got both perspectives on it now. That really helps.

"He saw the development that Carson (Palmer) went through and I think it will be a great opportunity for him to impart that kind of knowledge between he and (Jaguars Head Coach) Mike Mularkey on Blaine Gabbert and develop him."

Also around the combine:

*Sunday remains one of the highlight days of the combine because that's the day running backs and wide receivers will run and quarterbacks will throw, but in a not-entirely-unusual development, the day will lack star power this year. Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III each opted not to throw and will wait until their respective Pro Days to do so. The top wide receiver, Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, will not run because of a hamstring injury and Trent Richardson – the top running back in the draft – won't run because of a knee injury. Richardson and Blackmon are expected to run at their Pro Days, and their injuries aren't expected to hurt their draft status.

*Saturday was the day linebackers, defensive ends and defensive tackles met with the media. The group is scheduled to run and work out Monday, and although this is considered a relatively down year for pass-rushing ends, the tackle position is considered one of the best positions in the class. "It's a pretty deep class, a bunch of guys that should go pretty early," Lions General Manager Martin Mayhew said. While some consider Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still the No. 1 player at the position, redshirt sophomore Michael Brockers of LSU has climbed on many draft boards since declaring for the draft and some now consider him the top player at the position. Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State, Dontari Poe of Memphis and Brandon Thompson of Clemson are also considered potential first-round selections.

*With the Rams holding the No. 2 selection, and already having a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, there is widespread speculation they could trade down with a team seeking to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Rams also have a need at receiver, and have been connected with Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, though many analysts doubt Blackmon will go that early. "He's going to be a top player in this draft," Rams General Manager Les Snead said of Blackmon. "I'm not ready to say he's better or worse than A.J. (Green) or Julio (Jones). If we figure out between now and then (the April 26-28 NFL Draft) that Justin's worth it, he's definitely an option."

*While Griffin III has drawn comparisons to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton – last season's Rookie of the Year – Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he sees more of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in Griffin. "I do see Robert, in my opinion, tends to run a little bit more than Cam," Rivera said. "I think that is by design. I think Cam, we try to use him more in the pocket. Sure we did have some runs that we did use with him, obviously. But just watching Robert, you see a guy that's also very athletic, very quick. Some of his physical traits, the way he plays the game, reminds you a little bit more of watching Michael Vick as opposed to a Cam Newton-type guy."

*The growth of the spread offense in college has had widespread impact on NFL scouting, particularly at the quarterback position. But Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle, said spread offenses being so common in college has made it more difficult to scout linemen, too. "A lot of times you don't get to evaluate an offensive lineman with his hand on the ground," Muchak said. "So even center sometimes, you say, 'Well, the center never snapped to a quarterback underneath, they are shotgun all the time.' Little things like that make it harder, because a lot of teams don't run the conventional NFL offense. It is harder to find. A lot of offensive linemen haven't been developed in certain ways, haven't been asked to do certain things."

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