Blake Bortles is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class. The UCF star’s performance at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Sunday has left scouts, general managers, analysts and fans downright impressed.
Bortles was one of the only elite quarterback talents to go through all the drills at Lucas Oil Stadium, bucking the trend of doing as little as possible and actually proving to onlookers what he is capable of.
Not only did the 22-year-old give scouts a closer look at his excellent mechanics, but he also measured up better than expected.
The signal-caller was listed at 6’4”, 230 pounds during his time with the Knights, but the combine rulers put him at a solid 6’5”, 232 pounds. He also possesses sizeable hands, measuring in at 9.375 inches, just behind Johnny Manziel’s 9.875-inch mitts.
The table below shows how Bortles performed in all the measureables and drills as of Sunday:
|Height||Weight||Arm Length||Hand Size|
|6’5”||232 lbs.||32 7/8”||9 3/8”|
|40-Yard Dash||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||3 Cone Drill|
|20 Yard Shuffle|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out all the top quarterback prospects' unofficial 40-yard-dash times:
UNOFFICIAL 40 times: Johnny Manziel: 4.56 Derek Carr: 4.65 Jordan Lynch: 4.72 Tajh Boyd: 4.75 Blake Bortles: 4.81 AJ McCarron: 4.91— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 23, 2014
Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel attempted to put Bortles’ 40-yard dash time of 4.93 seconds into perspective:
Some perspective on Bortles' time: Ben Roethlisberger ran a 4.75 in 2004, Andrew Luck a 4.67 in 2012. Schaub a 5.04, Brady a 5.28.— Paul Tenorio (@osknights) February 23, 2014
Tenorio also came away pleased with the way that the young man threw the ball, especially considering the amount of pressure on his shoulders:
Just got back from throwing. Bortles was very impressive. Great zip on throws, especially deep outs/post corners. Definitely helped himself.— Paul Tenorio (@osknights) February 23, 2014
Bortles’ attitude might be the number one thing that impressed NFL personnel the most. He came in ready to show the world what he was capable of and wasn’t afraid of failure as he maneuvered through the various drills.
In fact, the prospect seemed downright excited and has been for quite some time. Bortles announced via Twitter last Tuesday that he had been looking forward to the moment since he was a kid:
Dreamt about the combine since I was a kid! Fired up to compete in all aspects of it, especially throwing!— Blake Bortles (@BBortles5) February 18, 2014
He also used his press conference as an opportunity to let everyone know that he was honored to even be there and would respect the process by competing in every event.
According to Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel, Bortles responded after being asked if he belongs at the combine with the top prospects:
One hundred-percent I do [belong], that’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m invited. I believe that I can compete with any guy here, and that’s why I’m doing everything I’m doing. That’s why I’m throwing, that’s why I’m running [and] doing all this stuff. Why wait to pro day when you have an opportunity to make a first impression here in Indianapolis. I grew up watching this as a kid and dreaming of competing in it, why would I sit anything out and do that kind of stuff? So just excited to be here and honored to be here, but definitely believe I belong here.
He also had a strong response when asked if he would be the best quarterback in this class:
I’ll do everything I can and unturn every stone to make sure that when I’m sitting there on draft day I’m not looking back saying ‘I wish I would have done this, I wish I would have done that.’ I’ll have done everything in my power to be the best that I can be by that day.
With his bold decision to run the 40-yard dash, jump and even throw for evaluators looking to identify and critique every flaw in his mechanics, Bortles undoubtedly displayed his immense confidence and has to have improved his stock as a potential franchise quarterback.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller found that Bortles is reportedly crushing his personal interviews with teams, outclassing competition such as Teddy Bridgewater—the Louisville quarterback who has been described as “aloof”:
Factor in Bortles’ solid production at UCF—he finished his junior campaign having thrown for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns with just nine interceptions, while also rushing for 272 yards and six scores during a 12-win, Fiesta Bowl championship season—and you are looking at a complete prospect.
There is some dissenting opinion on Bortles as a sure-fire early first-round selection, as Bleacher Report’s Greg Gabriel believes he should go in the second:
If a team drafts Bortles in the 2nd round, I have no complaints. That's where he belongs. Not high in the 1st— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) February 23, 2014
Is Bortles worthy of being the top pick in the upcoming draft?
Where he winds up in May remains to be seen, but Bortles is definitely in the running for the top pick and boosted his stock significantly during the combine.
If Bortles is selected at the beginning of the draft, younger quarterbacks hoping to come off the board early may take a cue from the UCF star and start competing in more events during the pre-draft event in Indianapolis.
Throwing and competing in all of the drills when most of his counterparts were sitting idle was a courageous choice and it looks like it may pay dividends for Bortles.