We’re still more than two months away from the 2014 NFL Draft, but usually by this point in the process there is a solid sense over who the No. 1 overall selection will be. As of now, we have no clue what’s going to happen, but Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles certainly has his fans.
NFL Network analyst Albert Breer said on Monday that the comparison he has heard the most for Bortles is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. A few NFL people I’ve talked to have brought up the Luck comparison as well, though obviously the Colts signal-caller entered the draft with a much more established track record than Bortles.
Breer does note that Bortles is not the athlete Luck is, and he isn’t as developed. But from a purely physical standpoint, Bortles does resemble Luck. They have similar builds, similar arm strength and both can be extremely accurate. Meanwhile, Bortles has the ability to move within the pocket that Luck does and he can run. He’s not as fast as Luck, but he can escape the pocket when needed.
With all of that said, Bortles isn’t Andrew Luck. He might wind up being that good if someone develops him, but Luck entered the league at a much higher level than Bortles will mentally. Both have fantastic intangibles, but Luck has an off-the-charts understanding of football and of his own strengths and limitations.
What will make or break Bortles in the NFL is whether or not his ball placement improves. He’s accurate as far as hitting receivers goes, but where he hits them is the key. Right now he doesn’t put his receivers in the best positions when the ball gets to them. It’s really a timing issue and must be fixed. To his credit, he wasn’t working with the best talent in the world around him at Central Florida.
My full assessment of Bortles is this: You can’t teach 6-5, 232 pounds with athleticism and intangibles at the quarterback position. He’s the kind of guy you draft if you’re sure you have a rock-solid offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who can develop him.
Drafting Bortles is a risk because he isn’t a finished product, but that’s true with all of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. Of those guys, Bortles has the most upside.