Despite being the highest drafted quarterback in 2014, Blake Bortles isn’t even close to being the best signal caller from his class.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were hoping they had fixed the quarterback position long-term when they selected Blake Bortles with the third overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, but history has shown us that signal callers at the top of the draft are a risky proposition.
Things looked rough after his rookie season, but Bortles progressed enormously as a sophomore and his future looked bright.
Then 2016 happened.
Bortles was a disaster mechanically and his decision making didn’t improve at all. He held back a team that presumably was read to break out and compete for the division title.
Bortles’ struggles are further highlighted by the rousing success of Derek Carr, a quarterback taken more then 30 selections after him.
In re-ranking the 2014 QB class, Will Brinson over at CBS Sports put Bortles at number three, and he was only that high because Teddy Bridgewater destroyed his knee last offseason.
"3. Blake Bortles, Jaguars…Bortles would have been in discussion for the second spot on this list before the 2016 season after a strong sophomore year that featured him throwing 35 touchdowns. He gets the third spot in the ranking right now because the Jaguars will find out with some certainty whether they want to keep Bortles around after the 2017 season. Neither he nor Bridgewater are signed past this year because the Jags and Vikings declined to pick up their respective fifth-year options. The difference is that, barring a Sam Bradford injury, the Vikes won’t be able to see what Bridgewater can do from a health standpoint. The Jaguars will have an answer on Bortles, good or bad.Then Bortles fell off a cliff in 2016, one of the most horrific seasons you will ever see from a young quarterback. Critics will point to 2015 as a year where Bortles simply piled up garbage time stats courtesy of the Jaguars trailing. There’s fairness to that charge but the drop from Bortles’ performance from 2015 to 2016 was not about hidden garbage time stats.What we saw in 2016 was a quarterback who looked lost mechanically — Bortles yards per attempt average dropped by nearly a full yard and his average yards per game dropped by 30 yards. He was sacked 17 less times than his league-leading 51 in 2015, but he still managed to set the NFL record for most pick-sixes in a quarterbacks first three seasons.…So at least there was a little bad luck involved. There was also some hope for 2017: in the final two games of 2016, after Doug Marrone took over as interim coach, Bortles completed more than 66 percent of his passes for 626 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.No one is buying that as offseason momentum for the following season, but Marrone being in charge of his development is something if you’re grasping for straws."
This is a pretty fair analysis by Brinson, and he even somewhat dispels (rather softly) the garbage-time myth toted around about Bortles’ 2015 season.
Blake Bortles was really bad in 2016, but I think I’m almost being pushed in a more optimistic direction by how vogue it’s become to call Bortles the worst quarterback ever. Brinson saying Bortles had ‘one of the most horrific seasons’ from a young quarterback sounds right, but statistically it isn’t true. Bortles at his worst still put up numbers that guys like Blaine Gabbert and Jared Goff would take any day.
Regardless, Bortles is going to have one more chance to change the narrative about him this season. He has enough talent around him to get this team to the playoffs and if he doesn’t, he’s no longer going to be a Jaguar.