Blake Bortles: Is He the Jaguars Most Underrated Player?


Is Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles the team’s most underrated player?

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has been the subject of criticism since he stepped on the field in the third game of the 2014 NFL season. Whether it is because of his high interception ratio (which he improved last season) or his mechanics, or the way he threw footballs, the former first-round draft pick has heard it all and continued to play football.

Last season, Bortles cut down on interceptions, improved his completion percentage and helped the Jaguars win the AFC South and make it to the AFC Title game. In the playoff games versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, he played his best football.

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So now, with the 2018 season on the horizon and national media and even NFL players themselves still taking shots at BB5, is Bortles the most underrated player on the Jaguars roster? Erik Lambert of NFL Mocks seems to think so and I am leaning toward agreeing with him.

In his latest story, “The Most Underrated NFL Player On All 32 Teams This Year.” Lambert chose the quarterback most of the national media loves to hate. He even started his assessment of his choice by agreeing understood this selection may not be a popular one.

"“Yep, we’re going there,” Lambert writes. “Look people need to stop comparing Blake Bortles to guys like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. It’s a losing proposition right from the start. Think about him in the context of the team the Jacksonville Jaguars have built.”"

Bortles threw for 3,687 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing only 13 interceptions, the lowest total of his career. He also improved his completion percentage to 60.7 and was sacked only 24 times.

That’s praise for the improved offensive line and Bortles being more aware of his surrounds and making better decisions in and out of the pocket. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett gets some of the credit for his quarterback’s improvement as well.

Lambert goes on to say while Bortles does not stand out as a top-tier passer, he is getting better and fits what Jacksonville is trying to do with its offense – one that is predicated on the running game to set up the pass.

"“One will start to realize that while he’s not perfect, he’s also better than he gets credit for,” he added. ‘He was 4-2 last season against teams with winning records in the regular season and delivered the best performance of his career in the playoffs with 594 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in three games.”"

Bortles has looked better in practice during OTAs, minicamp and training camp. He has told the media in weeks past that offseason wrist surgery has made a big difference in how he has played so far.

The former UCF star led the Jaguars on a 15-play drive to open the first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown scramble.

It was a small sample size of his work, but it was enough to get fans here in Jacksonville excited.

It’s another reason Lambert’s assessment may be on the money.

“He’s adapted to their system well. If they let him continue to develop, he’ll keep improving,” he wrote.