Blake Bortles has the potential to become a perennial Pro Bowler if he can get with a team that can help him realize his potential.
Enter the Minnesota Vikings and the No. 8 overall pick.
Bortles has the size at 6'5" 232 pounds, reminiscent of Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, that NFL teams and scouts covet in a quarterback. His body type makes him better suited to withstand the beating that NFL quarterbacks take and makes it hard to bring him down.
Bortles has good, but not great arm strength that some might assume based on his size.
According to Rotoworld's Greg Peshek, Bortles has good downfield accuracy, evidenced by a completion percentage of 54.76% on balls thrown for 20-plus yards. This shows that he still has the potential to make big plays down the field.
However, Bortles is missing some of the subtle nuances that separate the great quarterbacks from the below average.
Mike Mayock said that Bortles stares down his receivers too much. Bortles was able to get away with this while playing in the American Atlantic Conference, but this tendency will lead to a lot of interceptions in the NFL.
On top of that, Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller noted that Bortles' biggest weakness is his footwork, which often leads to erratic throws.
The Rookie Scouting Portfolio's Matt Waldman points to a great example of Bortles' bad footwork.
Bortles’ throw [in the video above] is too high and the receiver tips the ball skyward in an attempt to highpoint it.
The reason is Bortles’ feet. They are too wide after his initial turn from the short route to the down field route. The wide stance causes the ball to sail. Bortles has to be more precise with his turns or make a post-turn adjustment with his feet to throw from a more balanced stance.
Bortles' pro prospects are best summarized in this tweet from Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller:
For Bortles to succeed, he's going to need a team with a good running game, pass blocking and coaches that have the ability to correct these weaknesses.
The Vikings' offensive coordinator Norv Turner has a great track record with improving offenses and developing quarterbacks. The running game, led by Adrian Peterson, would help take the pressure off of Bortles, since opponents will make stopping the run their first priority. This should lead to some favorable passing situations.
Bortles would also have an emerging receiving threat with 2013 first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the Vikings were ranked seventh in pass blocking with a grade of +26.9. Therefore, Bortles shouldn't see the pressure that has hurt many quarterback prospects before him.
This makes the Vikings the perfect landing spot for Bortles. They have the running game, pass blocking and coaching that will allow Bortles to develop and get the most out of his potential.
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