Blake Bortles is 2nd Quarterback in 2014 Re-Draft, According to Gregg Rosenthal
Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell started the clock on his lifeline with the franchise when he selected UCF quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. At the time, it was a huge shock given how little public interest the team had shown in the signal-caller from Florida. There was some talk of the Jaguars taking Johnny Manziel (talk about dodging a bullet), but the team fooled everyone when they made Bortles their quarterback of the future.
After an up-and-down rookie season, the jury is still out on Bortles. Gregg Rosenthal over at NFL.com recently did a terrific study on all the rookie QBs from the 2014 class, and he ranked Bortles second behind Teddy Bridgewater. Here’s his analysis on Bortles:
"Has a chance2. Blake Bortles made the type of rookie mistakes that can be corrected. He also made five plays nearly every game that few other starters could pull off. His numbers were absolutely dreadful, rivaling the worst rookie seasons in QBR since 2006. The tape told a different story. He looked so much better on film than guys like Jimmy Clausen, Blaine Gabbert and Alex Smith as rookies.Jacksonville planned to give Bortles a redshirt season and must have wondered if they were doing permanent damage by playing him behind a depressing offensive line. No rookie quarterback dealt with more quick pressure or inexperience around him. Too many plays and games were over before Bortles did anything wrong. While Bortles’ mechanics fell off late in the year, his decision-making improved. His athleticism came to the forefront. He never lost his aggressiveness and his coaches put more on his plate as the year wore on. That’s a great sign.There are concerns, of course. Some of those sacks were on him and he was often fooled by defenses. Short, touch passes were far from routine. Still, Bortles showed off a bigger arm and even more athleticism than I expected. He looked like Cam Newton at times. He could improvise and throw well on the move. He performed well in the two-minute drill. A lot of the “tough-to-find” traits are there. The flash is there. Bortles has potential to make a huge leap in Year 2 by improving the basics and getting a little help from his teammates. His ceiling could still be higher than Bridgewater’s, but he’s far from a sure bet."
Rosenthal notes how historically bad Bortles’ statistics were during his rookie year, but he mentions how good Bortles looks when you actually watch the tape. Bortles showed the most change from his first start to his last start of all the rookie quarterbacks in my opinion, which means he really responded to the coaching he was getting. Obviously the Jaguars weren’t thrilled with the situations former offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch put him in, so the team made a change. Greg Olsen did a good of job of helping rookie QB Derek Carr play within himself in Oakland, and now he can help Bortles harness some of the traits that made him exciting and effective as a rookie. As Rosenthal mentions, Bortles probably still has the highest ceiling of all the 2014 QBs.
Rosenthal had a few more comments on Bortles, mentioning his sneaky athleticism, and how odd it was to see him perform poorly in garbage-time.
"5. I knew Bortles could run, but I didn’t expect him to look that good as a runner. He made J.J. Watt look silly on a 22-yard scramble, and pulled off other similar plays.6. Bortles was strangely at his worst in garbage time. Perhaps that comes from not taking what the defense gives him. That helps explain his poor overall numbers."
Rosenthal also admits that you have to take into account context and situation when analyzing these rookie QBs, especially Bortles.
"Degree of difficulty was taken into account with these rankings. They all played in poor situations, but Bortles had the biggest uphill battle. His pass protection was embarrassing and gave him no chance too often. He was playing with a group of rookie receivers as green as he was. That’s one reason why he could make the biggest jump in Year 2."
Some analysts want to give up on Bortles already purely because of his poor numbers in his rookie year, so it’s nice to see someone actually doing the work and seeing what Bortles has to offer if he improves in year 2. Hopefully he makes that leap, because the Jaguars could be a force in 2015 if he does.
Next: Dream draft from McShay and Kiper
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