Blake Bortles is rapidly becoming the most fascinating player in the 2014 NFL draft. For awhile Johnny Manziel was that player; then, briefly, Michael Sam took the baton. But for the last few weeks, Bortles – body by Roethlisberger; requisite head-turning girlfriend – has risen as high as No. 1 overall if you believe some of the pundits.
I wrote about Bortles in January, when the fascination over the Central Florida QB began in earnest. Nothing I’ve seen or heard since about Bortles has changed my mind: I’d feel much more comfortable taking him in the 2nd round than the 1st. (And yes, I still believe Zach Mettenberger is the better pro prospect.) Last week, ESPN’s Todd McShay had Bortles going 1st to Houston. Thursday, Mel Kiper Bortles going 4th to Cleveland.
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What’s amazing is that there’s been almost nothing negative written about Bortles. It’s all been glowing – from what his college coach said, to his size, to his stats. For example, McShay on February 5th: “… I’ve yet to hear one negative thing as it pertains to his mental makeup and intangibles.” Is everyone right about Bortles, or is this just embarrassing groupthink?
Well, here’s Matt Richner of Prediction Machine chiming in with some interesting stats:
He has only played against four ranked opponents these past two seasons. 50 percent of his career interceptions (9) have come in these four games.
So you’re saying he carved up the American Athletic Conference and struggled against the big boys? Yeah, but Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo and Joe Flacco put up big numbers in small conferences in college and became fine pro QBs. This is only mildly interesting. What else you got?
On first down he completed 70.6 percent of his passes, 75 percent on second down, and 54.3 percent on third down. This reflects a drop of almost 20 percent from second to third down…Russell Wilson, in his lone season at Wisconsin, completed 71.7 percent on first down, 71.8 percent on second down, and 75.3 percent on third down. The great quarterbacks don’t have a significant drop in production and none of them were anywhere close to having a 50 percent completion rate on third down.
Bortles’ numbers compare favorably to a couple of other former first round draft picks, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker. In Gabbert’s final season at Missouri he completed 71 percent on first down, 68 percent on second down, and a dismal 44 percent on third down. In Locker’s final season at Washington, he completed 55 percent on first down, 62 percent on second down, and 51 percent on third down.
I wonder if we’ll see more data in the coming weeks about this 3rd down stat. Can somebody get me some Mark Sanchez third down numbers from his time at USC?
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