Before the 2013 college season, Blake Bortles was an unknown commodity. If you search his name on Google, there are more pictures of Bortles’ girlfriend than there are of himself.
However, after a successful junior season as quarterback for the Central Florida Knights, including a dominant performance in the Knights’ Fiesta Bowl Victory over Baylor, Bortles has drastically improved his draft stock.
Bortles isn’t your standard pocket passer, nor is he a scrambler. He isn’t fast enough to be considered a dual threat, but he has the kind of functional mobility necessary for a quarterback to extend plays. He is a solid passer but he doesn’t have the strongest arm.
Listed at 6’5” and 235 pounds, Bortles is a part of an emerging class of play callers - the hybrid quarterback.
Bortles has no fear of stepping up in the pocket. Under pressure Bortles won’t blaze past defenders but he can extend the play when necessary.
During the 2013 season, Bortles threw for over 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also ran for 272 yards and six touchdowns.
Bortles’ potential has NFL scouts and TV personalities raving.
“He’s potentially a franchise quarterback,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “[Bortles has] really good arm strength, I wouldn’t say elite, I’d say really good. I think the word for this kid is potential.”
With lackluster performances by Teddy Bridgewater in the NFL Combine and Louisville Pro Day and concerns over Johnny Manziel’s character, Bortles has risen to the top of the quarterback chart.
Many scouts have him projected to be the first quarterback drafted in this year’s NFL Draft and some even have him going first overall to the Texans.
But there are certainly those who question Bortles ability. Doubters cite footwork, ball release and arm strength among Bortles’ weaknesses.
“I am not going to deny that this player has talent, but I do feel that he would have been better served staying in college and developing his game,” National Football Post’s Greg Gabriel said. “He is far from being ready to come into the NFL and play. There is too much inconsistency in his overall game.”
Although some doubt Bortles, there is an obvious upside to drafting him. He possess a solid skill set that, under the right tutelage, could make him an NFL superstar.
However, with the lack of first round talent in this year’s quarterback draft class do the teams that need a quarterback now have the time to develop Bortles?
Therein lies the issue with the hybrid quarterback - they often have a high upside but they must be drafted to the right team and be in the right environment to fully develop.
Will Blake Bortles be drafted in the first round? Certainly. But will he be successful in the NFL? We’ll just have to wait and see.