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Jaguars take QB Bortles with 3rd pick in NFL draft

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Jaguars take QB Bortles with 3rd pick in NFL draft
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have their next franchise quarterback.

This one might have to wait to get on the field.

The Jaguars passed on dynamic playmaker Johnny Manziel, as well as receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive end Khalil Mack, and surprisingly selected UCF quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night. General manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley said they won't throw Bortles into the starting lineup right away, insisting the plan is to stick with Chad Henne as the starter to begin next season.

''This is not a quick journey,'' Caldwell said. ''It's a marathon. Well, hopefully not a marathon. We want to build for the long term. Johnny's a heck of a football player. Johnny's game isn't going to change a lot from Year 1 to Year 2. We felt Blake has some development from Year 1 to Year 2. This first year is going to be critical for him to develop.

''With Johnny, he's always going to be Johnny. He's going to be electric, he's going to be dynamic, he's a great player. But for our system and what we want to do offensively, we felt like Blake was the best fit.''

The 6-foot-5 Bortles completed 68 percent of his passes last season for 3,581 yards, with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 272 yards and six scores.

His size and scrambling ability were huge draws for the Jaguars. So was his competitiveness and work ethic.

''It's such an important position in this league, and you want to do it right,'' Caldwell said. ''We can't just throw him out there. We've seen what happens when that happens. We're going to work to make this work, and I know he's going to work to make it work. The kid's got an incredible work ethic.''

Bradley raised eyebrows by saying if top pick Jadeveon Clowney would have fallen to No. 3, ''we still would have made this pick.''

''I just think that my No. 1 mission right now is to provide this environment where he has a chance to improve,'' Bradley said. ''I think if we stay strict to it, he'll get a chance to improve at a faster pace. ... There's a lot of comments that it might take him a year, might take them a half of a season, might take him some time, but that's OK. I think we've got to be patient.''

Bradley said Bortles stood out at the combine because of his willingness to compete. While other QBs opted not to throw or run, Bortles did anything and everything asked of him.

''I love to play football, and anytime somebody's going to ask you to throw at the combine, you get an opportunity to do that in front of every single NFL coach and GM in the country,'' Bortles said on a conference call from New York City. ''I don't know what's wrong with you if you don't take that challenge on and go compete.''

Bortles said he understood Jacksonville's plan to bring him along slowly.

''Obviously I have things I need to work on,'' he said. ''I've never looked at an NFL playbook, so there's going to be challenges that I'm going to have to overcome, but I can't wait to get there and work to be the best I can be and start competing.''

He added that he would OK with sitting out all of 2014.

''But I would go into practice every day and prepare every day like I'm a starter,'' he said. ''I think that's the kind of mindset you've got to have when you're in that position. But I would have no problem doing that and taking a full year to learn and soak up as much information as I can.''

Jacksonville threw first-round picks Byron Leftwich (2003) and Blaine Gabbert (2011) onto the field in the first month of their rookie seasons, and it backfired both times. Both QBs were eventually cut before their rookie contracts expired.

Caldwell would like to avoid doing the same to Bortles, a two-year starter at UCF who essentially rose to prominence as a junior. Caldwell said it should help that Bortles played in a pro system and ran a similar scheme.

''There are no major hurdles,'' Caldwell said. ''Everyone says he has such a high ceiling. He does, but we feel like he's got a low floor, too. ... He's a down-to-earth guy, a self-made guy, a blue collar guy and he wants to be the best he can be. He just needs a little bit of time.''

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