Blake Bortles Thrived Under Pressure in College, Will it Translate in the NFL?

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The Jacksonville Jaguars shocked the world when they selected quarterback Blake Bortles out of UCF with the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Although the team was in desperate need of a quarterback, almost no one saw the Jaguars going in that direction with their first round pick.

After a stellar preseason that had fans clamoring for the rookie to start right away, Bortles sat on the bench for the first 10 quarters of the regular season. At that point, head coach Gus Bradley could no longer justify playing veteran Chad Henne anymore, and Bortles took the reigns for good. What ensued was a rookie season full of some flashes of brilliance, and plenty of head-scratching decisions.

One of the most promising highlights of Bortles play throughout the year was his knack for making plays when there didn’t appear to be any hope. That was one of the main draws to Bortles as a prospect coming out of college. Doug Farrar over at SI.com recently discussed this in his piece about QBs who are good and bad under pressure:

"Last season, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was educated in the NFL’s version of pressure. The Jaguars’ front office, long known to be believers in sabermetric theory, selected Bortles third overall in part because he was so good when chased out of the pocket by defenders during his time at Central Florida, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt when under pressure."

Farrar acknowledges that Bortles had a pretty rough season, but luckily Bortles has all the tools to overcome some of the flaws that held him back in his rookie year.

"But behind a severely depleted offensive line in Jacksonville, Bortles had a nightmare 2014 season… Bortles was terrible when he wasn’t sacked—according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics, he completed just 54 of 118 passes when under pressure, with no touchdowns and eight interceptions…New offensive coordinator Greg Olson… wants Bortles to maintain his mobility while working on all the little things that make some quarterbacks downright dominant under pressure… The good news is that Bortles has the tools to get past a rough first season. The bad news is that some guys never get it, or lose it as quickly as they once had it."

Hopefully Bortles falls in the camp of guys who do get it, because the Jaguars need some consistency and playmaking on offense.

Bortles was spectacular at times in 2014 – let’s all hope we see more plays like this in 2015.

Next: Jaguars Have Worst Roster in NFL, Says PFF

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