Stretching the field is the one thing Bortles can really do. The 6'5", 232-pounder is blessed with the proverbial rocket for an arm.
Bortles meets all of the physical requirements for the position. The question is does he have the right temperament for the mental nuances of the pro game?
When he was drafted, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock compared Bortles to Pittsburgh Steelers ace Ben Roethlisberger, per Bortles' NFL.com draft profile page.
But the Florida native actually has more shades of former pro Drew Bledsoe in him. Like Bledsoe, Bortles has the look of a classic passer, with the height, solid frame and arm strength to terrorize defenses from the pocket.
Also like Bledsoe, Bortles can amass yards in chunks, but won't always be the most accurate. Bledsoe only topped 60 percent in completion percentage four times during 14 pro seasons, per figures via NFL.com.
When he was good, Bledsoe was prolific and deadly. When he was bad, 1993's top overall draft pick had troubling deciphering coverage and diagnosing pressure and often forced throws.
Bortles could be exactly the same. Back in March, MMQB.com writer Greg A. Bedard provided a superbly detailed analysis of the obvious weak points that undermine Bortles:
If Bortles played in the NFL right now, he would be a turnover machine and would probably flame out because his mechanics, mostly in the lower body, are extremely flawed.
While Bortles has problems with an inconsistent delivery—it can range from short and compact to long and wild—the biggest problem is his feet. Bortles is constantly stepping into a bucket, or stepping away from the throw instead of toward the receiver. Not only does that lead to accuracy issues, the ball also loses energy very quickly and underthrows are common on deep passes.
Bortles has sloppy footwork even in a clean pocket. More troublesome is that when he feels pressure, Bortles will stare down receivers, his footwork breaks down even more and the likelihood of a turnover increases greatly. In this way, he is similar to another unfinished NFL pocket passer: the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick. But Bortles doesn’t have Kaepernick’s wheels to help in the playmaking department.
Bedard's critique is well-founded when aimed at a player who the phrase "boom or bust" was seemingly invented for. That's why the Jags may be right to give him a year learning schemes and playbooks, before actually putting them into practice on the field.
The problem is can the Jags really afford to wait for Bortles to get up to speed? This franchise needs a lift after being treated as an afterthought for the past few seasons.
A rookie signal-caller can provide such a lift. The Jags also have weapons who probably need to learn alongside Bortles, targets like rookie wideouts Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee.
But the danger is overexposing Bortles to struggles too early. Bledsoe was thrown into the deep end with the New England Patriots in 1993 and never really shed his early bad habits.
Deciding when exactly to turn Bortles loose will be a delicate balancing act for Bradley and Caldwell. How they handle it won't just define this season but many more to come.