Blake Bortles is one of the top deep-ball passers in the NFL


The Jacksonville Jaguars are a much improved team compared to recent seasons, and a sizable portion of that improvement can be credited to the ongoing development of second year quarterback Blake Bortles.

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Despite the struggles the offense has had at times (particularly in the redzone), the Jaguars are much better on that side of the ball in 2015. One of the strengths of the offense is the downfield passing game, something Bortles has excelled at thanks to his arm strength and willingness to test the back-end of opposing secondaries.

Bortles’ prowess at throwing the deep ball hasn’t gone unnoticed, as Matt Bowen over at ESPN recently highlighted Bortles in a recent piece (ESPN Insider needed) on the best deep-ball throwers in the NFL:

"Blake Bortles, Jacksonville JaguarsSome might be surprised to see Bortles on this list, but the second-year quarterback has developed his overall game in Jacksonville — and that includes the deep ball. A league-leading 1,468 of Bortles’ passing yards this season have come via passes of 15-plus yards. With Allen Robinson (16.9 per catch) and Allen Hurns (15.8 yards per catch), Bortles has weapons defenses need to be aware of at all times. Plus, the hope here is tight end Julius Thomas continues to progress in the Jags’ offense to give Bortles another key target, especially in the “shot zone” (20-35-yard line). Bortles is never going to be mentioned with some of the more accurate quarterbacks in the NFL, but he has a legit arm, the athleticism to throw outside the pocket and the pieces around him to facilitate his development."

Bortles still has room to grow as a passer, but it’s extremely encouraging that he’s already become one of the better deep throwers in the league. Throwing the ball downfield generally isn’t a skill that a quarterback can develop – it requires both a strong arm and the “moxy” to take chances and consequently bounce back when those gambles don’t work out.

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If Bortles can work on his accuracy and pre-snap awareness, his repertoire of skills as a quarterback will be one of the most impressive in the entire league.