Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
UCF quarterback Blake Bortles after winning the Fiesta Bowl.
Projected 2014 NFL entry draft round selection: 1
2013 Season Statistics
Passing: 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 163.4 passer rating
The hype machine surrounding Blake Bortles is in full operation and gained even more momentum following his gutsy effort in winning the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
Bortles used his legs and arm to convert four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and overcame some early jitters that resulted in a pair of interceptions. Throwing for 301 yards and turning out 93 more on the ground catapulted him up the draft prospects board.
Dan Greenspan of NFL.com wrote, "Bortles reportedly received a first-round grade from the draft advisory board and at least one NFL team with a top-10 pick regards him as the top quarterback in the draft."
What surely intrigues the Browns, and other quarterback-hungry clubs, is Bortles' four fourth-quarter comeback victories in 2013. The Florida native's stock also rose during the regular-season finale against Southern Methodist that took place in a nasty ice storm.
Although the conditions were frigid, this was a tremendous opportunity for Bortles to show his versatility in bad weather and prove he could succeed in the cold. When circumstances weren't right for tossing touchdowns, No. 5 stepped up and ran to produce two scores.
Not turning the ball over, throwing 35 times and completing 68.6 percent of those passes in harsh winds is exactly what a Northern outdoor team like Cleveland is looking for.
Bortles is receiving comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck from Bleacher Report's own NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller.
The junior certainly looks the part of a franchise signal-caller at 6'4" and 220 pounds. He possesses underrated athleticism and isn't afraid to get physical when on the run.
Arm strength, a fluid release, downfield accuracy and quick progressions are all traits that emphasize the 22-year-old's value. Although he has the speed to make plays with his feet, Bortles is able to stay poised in the pocket under pressure and convert.
He needs to develop a better awareness from where defenders are attacking. As such a raw talent, Bortles would benefit greatly from holding a clipboard for one or two years.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist.
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81