Blake Bortles, the strapping QB from the University of Central Florida, has declared for the NFL draft. The media loves Bortles. He’s got the size of Andrew Luck, a powerful arm, he beat Penn State and Louisville last season, nearly beat South Carolina, and if you watch Bortles closely, you’ll see a little Ben Roethlisberger or Daunte Culepper in that he has slightly above-average wheels for a man of his size. Also, he’s a good-looking guy dating a goddess (see below), so when the off-the-field topic comes up, he probably won’t keep coaches up late at night worried about where he’s partying.
Allow me to pump the brakes on Bortles with the input of Phil Savage, who once was the GM of the Cleveland Browns:
Blake Bortles’ conflict: media/mock drafts = top 10, NFL advisory panel = 2nd RD. 5th pick = 4yrs/18M, 40th pick = 4yrs/4M. #toughcall
— Phil Savage (@SeniorBowlPhil) January 2, 2014
How Savage got the advisory panel information has not been revealed; others have said Bortles received a 1st round grade. In a draft that was supposed to be QB-heavy, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Bortles has flown up the charts because standouts like UCLA’s Brett Hundley and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota decided to stay in school, and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd didn’t follow his 2013 Bowl win over LSU with an excellent season. Just how much has Bortles risen in the eyes of the media?
Think Blaine Gabbert. Or Ryan Nassib. The college football season is over, there are several months to go until the draft, and everybody’s talking about the obvious candidates – Bridgewater, Manziel, Clowney – to go No. 1. The smart move to get noticed? Surprise everyone.
Dots are being connected by draft pundits. George O’Leary the UCF coach, was the head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994-2001; Bill O’Brien, the new Houston Texans head coach, was on the Yellow Jackets staff from 1995-2002. On September 14th, Bortles went to Happy Valley and lit up the Nittany Lions – who were coached by O’Brien – for 288 yards and three TDs on 74 percent completions. O’Brien raved about Bortles after the game.
“Anytime you have a quarterback like [Bortles] who is accurate, has a strong arm, is big and can stand in the pocket and can run, it is a difficult challenge,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said. “He played a great game tonight and all the credit to him. I think he is a heck of a player. I didn’t get a chance to meet him or say hello to him, but I think he is a heck of a player. He had a great game.”
When O’Brien asks his longtime friend O’Leary about Bortles, he’ll gush, and the Texans will have to take Bortles No. 1! [Hey, wasn’t this supposed to happen with Buffalo and Nassib last year? It did happen with Ryan Tannehill and Mike Sherman in Miami in 2012.]
Yeah, I’m disagreeing with all of that. Teddy Bridgewater. Johnny Manziel. Even LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, coming off an ACL injury, are all significantly more appealing QBs to me than Blake Bortles in the 1st round. I like Bortles as a prospect more than Fresno’s Derek Carr, but I wouldn’t take either in the 1st round. (In my pre-Bowl mock draft, I had Carr going late in the 1st.) Yes, several teams drafting early are desperate for a capable QB, but what’s wrong with grabbing one early in the 2nd round?
Of the eight QBs who participated in the playoffs last week, Andy Dalton, Drew Brees, and Colin Kaepernick were all 2nd round picks; Nick Foles went in the 3rd.
Anyway, please read this from Greg Bedard on Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, who is the most complete QB in the 2014 NFL Draft. Houston, you’ve got a decision: Bridgewater or Manziel, or Clowney and a QB to start the 2nd.