Blake Bortles was an afterthought as a high school senior. Miami, Florida State and Florida, the big three in Bortles’ home state, did not recruit him as a quarterback. Florida State, like many other schools, thought he might be a tight end.
The University of Central Florida believed Bortles was good enough to play quarterback. He signed with the Knights, and knew he has something to prove.
Bortles proved all of skeptics wrong when he was the first quarterback selected in this year’s NFL draft. Jacksonville used its first round pick (third overall) to pick up Bortles. He was drafted ahead of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. Even though Bortles might be a year away from starting, he will compete against Chad Henne to start this season.
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley attended Bortles’ pro day in April, and had nothing but positive things to say about his new quarterback.
"I thought it was a good drill set up," Bradley said. "He got all the movement passes. All the different throws you’re asked to make, and I thought he did a nice job with them. He’s got two guys running the routes with him. It was exactly what you hoped to see."
Bortles led UCF on six second-half comebacks in the 2013 season. The quarterback finished with 3,581 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season, plus a victory against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
Many draft analysts have compared Bortles (6-foot-5, 232 pounds) to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Both are big passers who are not afraid to stand in the pocket and get hit. They both stay calm under pressure and have strong arms.
Bortles’ attributes explains why he was selected ahead of Manziel, a short scrambler known for making plays that would be hard to duplicate in the NFL. Bridgewater was once viewed as the top quarterback prospect in this draft, but his well-documented pro day struggles seemingly moved him behind Bortles.
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