*Photo credit – Roger Barone via Flickr.
Blake Bortles comes out of UCF and has sky-rocketed up draft boards, thanks to prototypical size, arm strength and nice athleticism. Add good numbers and an impressive season overall for his team, Bortles has even garnered some #1 overall consideration.
I note that Bortles has the size and arm you look for, but I still have my doubts. To get a better idea, I sat down and watched tape of several games, with showdowns vs. Ohio State, Penn State and South Carolina holding the most weight. This is what I came away with:
- Excellent size and frame
- Has nice accuracy and zip on short and intermediate throws
- Release is pretty quick and clean when he’s more decisive
- Throws a beautiful and mostly accurate deep ball
- Footwork is fantastic when he has time – quick, active feet
- Shows great poise and calmness in pocket when protected
- Really has outstanding ball placement most of the time
- Has solid athleticism and running ability
- Has faced some pretty good competition and flashed brilliance
- A little stiff and rigid in the pocket
- Accuracy leaves something to be desired when under pressure
- Seems to be pushing the ball at times
- Awareness and reaction time in pocket could improve and be faster
- Can be forced into making silly decisions
- Tends to rely a lot on check downs and screens
- Needs to let plays develop more, can react too quickly to pressure
- Stares receiver down too much, needs to do a better job of looking off the defender
- Not as mobile in the pocket as you’d think considering his athleticism
We’ve got an NFL quarterback here, no doubt. Bortles has the size and arm you look for. He can make all the throws, he has experience under center and he has gone up against some tough competition. With that said, Bortles has a ways to go on going through his progressions, as he checks down a lot and can stare down his primary receiver too often. He also needs to handle pressure better and be more consistent with his accuracy.
With that said, he’s potentially a special player if he can put it all together, as he has displayed terrific ball placement and tossed some beautiful deep balls. While he looks like a starting quarterback at the next level, something about him still screams over-hyped, as his ascension appears to be more about buzz and UCF’s success than the actual tape.
Draft Range: Top 10 pick
NFL Player Comparison: Matt Schaub (more athletic, more upside)