Blake Bortles is going to turn an NFL organization around. A general manager is going to pay the Central Florida quarterback millions of dollars and, in return, Bortles will win games. Lots of games in fact.
At 6 feet 4 inches and 230 pounds, Bortles looks the part of a franchise quarterback. Not only does he have the stature to take abuse from the mammoth defensive linemen of the NFL, he has the speed and elusiveness to make teams pay when the pocket collapses. In addition, Bortles has shown the ability to keep his eyes downfield when eluding pressure. His first instinct is to attack with his arm, which is something scouts question about Texas A&M; sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel.
In addition to his physical attributes, Bortles has proven on the field the ability to manage football games, make good decisions, and read defenses. The aggressiveness that Bortles showed during his career at Central Florida has scouts excited about his potential with NFL level wide receivers. Bortles didn’t have a premiere pass catcher like Manziel did, and did most of his damage through precise execution. Bortles appears to understand the game, what defenses are trying to do and does a great job exploiting the weaknesses.
Former Cleveland Browns quarterback and current ESPN analyst, Trent Dilfer, has been reported using a specific saying when judging quarterback prospects.
“’Be a surgeon, not a butcher,’” Dilfer said according to ESPN. “Use your tools with precision and calculation. Don’t just hack away.”
In terms of quarterbacks from this class, Bortles jumps off the page as someone who goes about every meeting, practice and game with a certain purpose, attentiveness and focus, much like a surgeon. He knows his strengths, and uses them to his advantage every opportunity he gets.
The only flaws in Bortles game stem from his tendency to get away from proper mechanics. Typically, Bortles steps up in the pocket and powers his throws with his hips. However, there are instances where he fails to transfer his weight, and ends up throwing a duck off his back foot. With proper coaching, this can be eliminated rather easily, and should not be a big issue on draft day. In fact, when asked about his areas of improvement, Bortles provided one of the unique answers of all the 2014 draft prospects.
“There’s no doubt that I need coaching,” Bortles said in February at the NFL Combine. “I need help. Everyone does. There’s reasons why all these greats out there are continuing to play and continuing to work in the offseason and get coached.”
The hype surrounding Manziel is well deserved. The Texas A&M; product put up gaudy numbers against SEC defenses, week in and week out. However, Bortles has displayed all the necessary traits to make him a surefire prospect at the next level. It might take a year or two, but with the proper coaching and a good supporting cast, Bortles will be a perennial top-tier quarterback. If an organization wants to make waves and fall victim to the media hype, they will take Manziel. However, if they want to win football games, Bortles should be the guy.
David Embers is a junior in biology. Please send comments to [email protected]