Blake Bortles the next Andrew Luck? QB guru sees similarities
Could former Central Florida quarterback skyrocket up draft boards and lead a team to the postseason in his rookie year?
Blake Bortles dazzled scouts in his junior season at Central Florida.
Jennifer Stewart/Andy Lyons/Getty Images
By Ross Jones
Blake Bortles has gone from relatively unknown to being considered a potential top overall pick in May’s NFL Draft.
One quarterback guru believes the Central Florida quarterback resembles a two-time Pro Bowler.
“The guy who has the skillset that everybody is looking for in terms of size, arm strength and mobility is Blake Bortles,” quarterback coach Steve Clarkson told FOXSports.com Tuesday. “To me, he possesses all the skillsets that you’re looking for in an NFL caliber quarterback, [which] seems to be the new franchise quarterback, if you will. He’s probably the closest thing to me to an Andrew Luck out of this class.”
Bortles, who stands 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, is similar in stature to the Colts’ quarterback. He’s also deceivingly light on his feet. Bortles ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in a 52-42 win against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.
“I think it’s the intangibles,” Clarkson said. “I never see him get rattled. That’s the one thing. The most impressive thing I remember about Andrew Luck in college was the game against USC when he threw the pick-six. Any other guy it would’ve demoralized him, but he shrugged it off like it never happened. Then he ends up leading his team on a touchdown drive thereafter.
“When I look at Blake I see a lot of those intangibles. I’m really big on that. The ‘it’ factor; the things that you can’t coach. You put a guy out there when the chips are down and you can rely on his cool, calm and collectiveness to get the job done and rally his teammates behind him. That goes a long way. [Bortles] clearly displayed that over the course of the last season.”
Bortles’ most resilient game came in October, when he led the Knights to a 38-35 comeback win against at the time eighth-ranked Louisville. Down 28-7 in the third quarter, UCF was able to claw its way back and Bortles ran the two-minute drill to perfection in the waning moments of the game.
After leading the Knights to a 12-1 record, Bortles decided to forgo his college eligibility and enter his name into the NFL Draft. The question is where will he land?
The Texans reportedly are “leaning toward taking either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel” with the No. 1 overall pick, according to Sports on Earth’s Russ Lande.
“His ceiling is high, but the big question is who gets him,” Clarkson said. “So many of these guys can play, but it really comes down to the guy that is actually making the selection. Is he the right fit for their scheme? So many times guys will choose a guy on their notoriety and ranking but he’s not necessarily a fit for what you’re currently constructed to do.”
The Browns, who have been reportedly linked to Manziel since late December, have enough ammo (two first-round picks) to make the move up the draft ladder. A recent Browns hiring has Clarkson intrigued at the possibility of Manziel landing in Cleveland. Kyle Shanahan agreed to a three-year deal to be the Browns' offensive coordinator Monday.
“With Kyle’s background with RG3 it would make a lot of sense that you would put in a system that would essentially cater around Manziel’s greatest assets, which is his ability to create and get outside the pocket and wreak havoc,” Clarkson said. “That’s what you would want installed. There would be no reason to put in something where it’s going to be counterproductive for his skillset.
“The great thing is if it is Cleveland -- and it’s still too early to tell -- but if it is a place like that, you’re going to have to draft a guy and basically build around what he does best. Otherwise, it would make no sense for you to draft him.”