Can Blake Bortles Surpass Teddy Bridgewater, Peers in 2015?


Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr. The three most prominent rookie quarterbacks from the 2014 NFL Draft will forever be measured against each other. We can add in New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (second round of 2014 NFL Draft) for the start of the season and Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger (sixth round of 2014 NFL Draft) if he can fend off 2015 first round pick Marcus Mariota for one season.

In reality, though, it’ll come down to Bortles, Bridgewater, and Carr. All three are being given the keys to their teams. All three are expected to be the face of the franchise. All three are expected to be superstars for their teams.

Blake Bortles was the worst of those three by far last season. Bridgewater cooly led the Minnesota Vikings, showcasing his poise and proving that he was as pro-ready as everyone thought he would be. Carr had a tumultuous first season with the Oakland Raiders but showcased a decent arm and the ability to lead through adversity. The Vikings and Raiders are only getting better under those two young quarterbacks. Bortles has to match that pace or risk being left behind.

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2015 will be the first real test for those three quarterbacks. They all had extensive starting time last season, but with the end of the collegiate football season, the build up to the draft, the constant workouts, the transition to the NFL, and a myriad of other concerns competing for attention during that first season, it is tough to judge just how good these young quarterbacks will be through their career. Year two will give a better indication of how well these guys can truly play.

Blake Bortles has a lot of ground to make up to catch Derek Carr and even more to make up to catch Teddy Bridgewater. He’s been putting in the time this offseason, working on his mechanics, footwork, and making sure his balls come out faster, more tightly, and more accurately. He’s been proving his leadership among his team, turning the 2015 Jacksonville Jaguars into his team. Whether that will be enough to see a significant jump in his game remains to be seen.

What also remains to be seen is how much better Bridgewater and Carr will be. The sophomore slump could loom over one or all three of these quarterbacks or all of them could push through and put in impressive 2015s. Of the three teams, Bridgewater has the most complete team with him. A returning Adrian Peterson may make his ascension as leader of the team a bit more difficult, but it should also make Bridgewater’s life a lot easier every Sunday. Carr is getting some help with new rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper and should be able to light up the scoreboard a lot more. He also has a strong young running back in Latavius Murray. Bortles is reliant upon his young receivers taking a step forward and a revamped offensive line stopping the opposition from killing him.

The potential is there for the Jaguars, but when I look at Bortles versus his peers, I have to wonder if he’ll be able to catch up to them in just one offseason. I see all three as successful quarterbacks of the future, but the rise could be slow and steady for all of them (especially since they are all in different situations) rather than an atmospheric jump by one of them.

Based on the strength of the teams, I see Bortles and Carr coming closer to together in year two while Bridgewater may stay further ahead. At the end of last season there were lows for all three quarterbacks but Bridgewater came away the least scathed from his rookie campaign. It’ll be tough for Bortles (or Carr) to surpass Bridgewater if they all continue to grow.

While comparing the three QBs is fun, what is most important for the Jaguars is seeing Blake Bortles progress as the team grows. The numbers will come later, what matters most is making sure he continues to develop. At the end of next season we’ll be able to see how he grew compared to Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater, but until the end of next season things may still be up in the air for all three.

Next: Where Does Blake Bortles Stack Up in the AFC South?

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