ESPN's Adam Caplan tweeted a couple of days ago that NFL teams' opinions on Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles were "all over the place." That has certainly been true in the media this week as draftniks and scouts have gone on record to offer variant opinions on the junior QB. But Friday skewed positive for the Bortles hype.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoted an anonymous NFL team scout who said Bortles is "a stud" who "may end up being the No. 1 overall pick."
Draft insider Tony Pauline took it a little further, writing that Bortles is a "clear-cut favorite" to be the top pick by Houston.
I watched every UCF game this season and was in attendance for the Knights' Fiesta Bowl victory over Baylor. Do I think Bortles should be the first pick in the NFL Draft? No, but if the Texans like him enough, I won't bash them for choosing "their" guy.
I see a lot more of Andrew Luck than Jake Locker, two quarterbacks Bortles has been often compared to recently. The size, mobility and arm strength are all much closer to Luck. I think Bortles is more accurate than Locker, but he does need quite a bit of work as a passer. For one, he throws off his back foot a lot, but he has a handful of other flaws
People are talking up Bortles' performance in the Fiesta Bowl, but I thought he was largely hit-or-miss. He forced throws and made a few awful decisions against an a very suspect defense in Baylor. His numbers were much better in the second half as he chose to use his legs more, but his overall passing stats were inflated because two of his touchdowns came on short screens that wide receiver Rannell Hall -- watch out for that kid! -- took a long way to the house.
Bortles certainly couldn't have come back to UCF for his senior season. Yes, he would have gained more teaching and seasoning, but he was just named the MVP of the Fiesta Bowl for a team that had claimed only two previous bowl victories in its history. There is no going up from there, only down. He is getting first-round grades from almost everyone and is a quarterback in a draft filled with QB-needy franchises. It would have been idiotic for Bortles to pass up the money and return to school, where an injury would have crushed his stock (See: Matt Barkley).
I would prefer Bortles be selected by a team that could afford to let him sit and learn for a season or even a half of a season. He needs time. He is nowhere close to being a finished product, and frankly, I think any team that takes him in the top 10 with visions of starting him in Week 1 is assuming an incredible amount of risk. But that's how the NFL is these days. If Bortles is taken that far up in the draft, odds are he will be on the field early in his rookie year. Fantasy prospects? Sure, his dynasty potential is immense. Re-draft leagues shouldn't worry about Bortles right now.