Blake Bortles NFL Draft Stock
|@Florida International||W 38-0||12||19||214||1||0||4||22||1|
|@Penn State||W 34-31||20||27||288||3||1||5||5||0|
|South Carolina||L 28-25||25||36||358||2||2||9||5||0|
|South Florida||W 23-20||17||26||219||2||2||6||-14||0|
|@Southern Methodist||W 17-13||24||35||242||0||0||10||31||2|
|Baylor (Bowl)||W 52-42||20||31||301||3||2||8||93||1|
|@Ohio State||L 31-16||25||41||249||2||3||1||-10||0|
|Florida International||W 33-20||20||30||251||2||1||2||1||0|
|East Carolina||W 40-20||15||21||269||1||0||6||62||1|
|Southern Miss||W 38-31||27||40||272||0||0||7||-11||2|
|Southern Methodist||W 42-17||10||15||110||2||0||6||33||1|
|Ball State (Bowl)||W 38-17||22||33||272||3||0||9||80||1|
|Charleston Southern||W 62-0||8||10||144||0||0||1||-5||0|
|Boston College||W 30-3||n/a|
|@Florida International||L 17-10||n/a|
|@Brigham Young||L 24-17||4||5||46||0||0||0||0||0|
|@Southern Methodist||L 38-17||9||12||118||1||0||1||-6||0|
|@Southern Miss||L 30-29||24||34||248||2||1||7||12||0|
|@East Carolina||L 38-31||9||17||98||2||1||3||2||0|
NFL Draft Stock
Thanks to recent achievements from players like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, the prototypical NFL quarterback is no longer a towering pocket passer. NFL teams love the advantage of a mobile QB, and are willing to overlook certain aspects in exchange for the intangibles that win games. Luckily for NFL Draft Prospect Blake Bortles, he meets the old school requirements as well as a lot of the new ones.
Bortles is 6-foot-5 and weighs 232 pounds. He has outstanding size and stature with a very strong arm. He has good field vision and a nice release that NFL teams will love. He can put zip on the ball for a quick strike, or drop passes into buckets with a soft touch. Bortles also has an excellent sense of pressure and can evade the rush if he has to, yet will scan the field for the throw far before tucking it to run. He doesn’t take many unnecessary sacks, making it easier to dub him a “smart quarterback” rather than a gunslinger. Bortles has engineered a few comeback victories while at UCF, beating Penn State and Louisville on the road, and taking a surprise NCAA program to a BCS bowl.
As much as I like him, NFL Draft critics love to point out that Bortles needs to polish his footwork or doesn’t throw the tightest spiral. Other knocks to his game include his ball handling skills as he fumbled nine times in his junior year. No quarterback in this years draft class comes without aspects where they need to improve, yet most of what I see from this talented prospect is manageable with a good NFL coaching staff. He seemed sharp drawing up plays with Steve Mariucci and I feel Bortles could handle an NFL offense in time.
Blake Bortles vs South Carolina 2013
Bortles was the Knights starting quarterback from midway through the 2011 season, all the way to an upset victory over sixth-ranked Baylor in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. As a senior Bortles completed 151 of 233 passes for 2,211 yards with 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He also had 15 rushing touchdowns along with 561 rushing yards during his time at UCF.
Early Fantasy Insight
Fantasy owners will be very interested in his size and speed, but surprisingly despite his impressive statistics on the ground Bortles only averaged 5.4 rushing attempts per game. Meaning, he is a pocket passer first and foremost with an added element of mobility. Having quick feet not only helps keep plays alive, but allows teams to call designed playaction rollouts or even the odd option-read. Bortles throws exceptionally well on the run, and he keeps his head on a swivel scanning the field for possible outlet targets.
Decision to Throw at the Combine
Never let your agent whisper nonsense into your ear. Throwing at the NFL Combine was an excellent decision. Anyone pleading the case that a quarterback won’t have familiarity with the wide receivers running routes is over thinking things. Frankly, adjusting to a players speed while they run is exactly what scouts want to see. There are so many times throughout a game where a quarterback needs to adjust his throw. Whether throwing against strong winds or in the rain, throwing to an unfamiliar receiver who has had to step up due to an injury, or frankly adjusting to a broken play. If you can’t throw a pass to an open man in stride, you shouldn’t be a starting NFL quarterback.
All the standard NFL Draft buzzwords could be used to describe Blake Bortles, but the one aspect of his game that stood out the most to me was his decision making. He gets the pass out quick, plain and simple. His combination of speed and arm strength has bailed out him in pressed situations, but for the most part Bortles scans the field and releases the ball on time like any pocket passer. He rarely gets greedy with throws and understands the importance of hitting check down receivers.
The transition to the NFL is usually described by many NFL rookies as just being “faster”. The game moves at a higher speed. The ball is delivered faster and players get off their blocks faster. It’s this extra gear that athletes need to adjust to; the ones that do usually experience some form of success at the next level. Bortles’ quick release along with smart decision making will be a huge bonus early on in the pros. While I never like seeing rookie quarterbacks thrown into the fire in their first year, I feel that Bortles has the tools and smarts to “manage the game” enough to start early. I would be surprised to see him fall out of the top five overall in May’s NFL Draft, and may play around with the idea of adding him first overall in a few Mock Drafts in the next few weeks.[ad id=”Ad2″]