Blake Bortles a “Tier 3” quarterback according to poll conducted by ESPN
Despite taking a massive leap in his sophomore season, Blake Bortles still has a number of doubters among NFL talent evaluators.
After a rough rookie season, there were plenty of people ready to write off Blake Bortles despite being the 3rd player drafted overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. It wasn’t completely outrageous to do so given how bad Bortles was by traditional and advanced metrics in 2014.
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Luckily for Jacksonville Jaguars fans, Bortles took a substantial step forward in his second season, posting a franchise single season record in both touchdowns (35) and yards (4,428). By most accounts, Bortles had all but solidified himself as at least a potential franchise quarterback.
Mike Sando of ESPN recently conducted a poll consisting of 33 coaches and evaluators on where they would rank each starting quarterback within 5 tiers – 1 being the best and 5 being the worst. Blake Bortles ended up being averaged into “Tier 3,” categorized as “Legit starter but needs heavy run game/defense to win.”
"Avg. rating: 3.00 | Change in rating: +21.6% | 2015 rank: 27Most voters thought Bortles had moved into the third tier and toward the second tier after passing for 4,428 yards and 35 TDs in his second season. There were also 18 interceptions. A personnel director said he thought Bortles could make a Dalton-like jump this season if the Jaguars’ offensive line improves sufficiently.“He is working his way into a 2 really quick,” a defensive coordinator said. “In fact, I will give him a 2. I think it is the simple fact of, do we know who his wide receivers are? Do we really know who these guys are? And yet they had two 1,000-yard wide receivers on his football team without an offensive line. That is outstanding. Who else does it?”The Jaguars quarterback showed signs of promise last year after a dismal 2014, but some of his numbers are distressing. The talent around him, however, could help with his flaws.The Broncos had two 1,000-yard receivers despite spotty quarterback and line play last season. The Cardinals and the Jets were the other teams with two 1,000-yard receivers.Bortles has skeptics. One head coach said he grew frustrated watching Bortles play because the quarterback “took forever” with his reads. Another head coach noted that Bortles has not played in meaningful games, while an offensive coordinator questioned Bortles’ mechanics.“When I study their tape, I’m not scared to play that guy at all,” a quarterbacks coach said. “I think he is talented. I think he has a decent arm. He has some mechanical issues. He forces the ball a lot. I know he is getting coached well, but to me he is a high 3. The decisions he makes with the football keep me from saying he is a 2.”"
Overall Bortles was the 22nd ranked starting quarterback behind the likes of Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Alex Smith, Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins, and Jay Cutler.
I mention all of those guys namely because the argument could be made Bortles is better or has a higher upside than any of them, but there still appears to be a lot of stock taken into two things – the considerable struggles Bortles had in his rookie year and the misconception of his “garbage-time stats” from 2015.
If Bortles picks up where he left off from 2015 (which it looks like he did in his first preseason game), we’ll see him climb up into the next tier sooner rather than later.