Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
“This was by far the best.”
That is how Blake Bortles responded to John Oesher and J.P. Shadrick of Jaguars.com LIVE on Wednesday, when being asked if there were other teams and cities that would’ve had him as excited as Jacksonville does. Make no mistake about it, Blake Bortles is thrilled to be a Jacksonville Jaguar. In that same interview, Bortles was seen wearing a Jags hat that featured the old logo. Come to find out, it wasn’t something he had just received.
Bortles also mentioned how after each visit to a team, his mom would ask him how it went. It comes as no surprise that Suzy Bortles was told by her son that Jacksonville was the best he had been to. But Blake’s mom wasn’t the only one hearing the high praise. According to Gus Bradley, Bortles told the Jags during his pre-draft visit with the team that had it been a college recruiting visit, he would’ve signed right then and there. Blake probably isn’t the only member of the Bortles family who is happy with the Jaguars selection.
Bortles grew up and played high school football in Oviedo, just five miles away from UCF’s campus. Oviedo and UCF are only about 2 hours away from Jacksonville, so the travel to games isn’t exactly daunting. In fact, Bortles mentioned in his introductory press conference with the team that he had been to several Jaguars games as a kid. Little did he know that he would go from being in the stands of Everbank Field(then Alltel Stadium), to being on the actual gridiron, below the world’s largest video boards.
Bortles’ personality fits with Jacksonville as well. He has mentioned how he is a laid-back kind of guy, who isn’t really about being in the media and the spotlight. While the Jaguars are working to improve their popularity, and successfully so, they aren’t going to carry the cameras and media frenzy of a Dallas or New York. Bortles was asked by Jaguars.com LIVE about being in New York for the draft, and how he felt about the whole process.
"“That’s not me, going to New York and doing all that stuff. I enjoy being in a locker room, being in a facility, hanging around with a great group of guys. Watching football, talking football, building camaraderie and stuff that you do in the locker room. Those are the things that I enjoy doing, so I’m definitely glad that whole process is over.”"
Bortles and the Jaguars aren’t just a good match personality wise, but on the field as well. We saw last year how Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch likes to have his quarterbacks on the move, and this seems to be where Bortles excels throwing the ball. He handles pressure from the defense extremely well, both by escaping the pocket on the run, and standing in and taking the hit to deliver the throw. But his accuracy was notably better when on the move than it was standing still in the pocket. This seems like an area that could be easily fixed with coaching on footwork and mechanics, but expect to see Bortles rolling out a lot in the early going.
The Jaguars also have a plan in place for Blake Bortles to develop into his full potential. The team helped their cause majorly in the draft by grabbing two highly rated prospects at wide receiver in Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. After giving Bortles some weapons, they helped strengthen the line protecting him by adding guard Brandon Linder and center Luke Bowanko. The team ended their draft by selecting running back Storm Johnson, Blake Bortles’ teammate at UCF. The team also plans to not start Bortles right away, but rather bring him along easily until he is ready to go.
The union of Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars is looking like it will also have a positive affect on the team’s fan base expansion and ticket sales.
The team also put up three billboards in Orlando, welcoming Bortles and all of the other draft picks to the Jaguars family. For years, many people clamored for Jacksonville to sign a certain quarterback who was from the area to help boost sales and popularity. The Jaguars thankfully passed, and instead have found something infinitely better in Bortles: a semi-local quarterback, who is already boosting popularity and ticket sales, and can actually play the game of football. So far, fans have welcomed the new face of their franchise. According to NFL.com, Bortles’ jersey was in the top five selling rookie jerseys over draft weekend.
Going back and looking at pre-draft evaluations of players, a lot of analysts said the same thing about Blake Bortles. He had the most upside out of all the quarterbacks in the draft, and could one day be a star, but he needed to go to the right team to realize his potential. Honestly, it seems there might not have been a better team for the Florida native to go to.
As Bortles himself put it:
“This was by far the best.”