by Cole Pepper
May 8, 2014
Jaguars fans have been thinking about this draft since sometime in early October, when the Jaguars were on their way to an 0-8 start. Add the additional three weeks we all had to wait, as the NFL pushed the draft back to the second week of May and it’s been a long time coming. After all of the waiting, the answer is: Blake Bortles.
Bortles was available when the Texans used the #1 pick on South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Rams then selected Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson. That set the stage for the Jaguars to make Bortles the third quarterback taken in the first round in team history. The Jaguars are hoping that Bortles will fare better than Byron Leftwich and Blaine Gabbert. As was the plan with Gabbert in 2011, the Jaguars plan on sitting Bortles so he can learn the game and improve. General Manager Dave Caldwell said that he expects Chad Henne to be the Jaguars starter on opening day.
“We felt really good about him all the way into the season,” Caldwell said after the pick. “There was a point in time where we thought we would be picking #1 in this draft when we were 0-8. When our college staff got together and our coaching staff got together, he was a unanimous consensus of the guy we wanted.”
Perhaps the most surprising revelation came from head coach Gus Bradley who said that even if Jadeveon Clowney had fallen to the Jaguars at #3, the Jaguars would still have taken Bortles. Clearly, in the minds of the Jaguars coaches and scouts, Blake Bortles is a franchise quarterback in the waiting, albeit one with areas to improve.
“Some of his accuracy. Some of his footwork, his strides, things like that,” Bradley said. “But, this is the guy that we targeted. We think very highly of him.”
Bradley noted Bortles competitiveness and leadership as outstanding traits, pointing out that Bortles participated in every drill at the combine. As for Bortles, after visiting with the Jaguars, Texans, Browns and Raiders, he had “good vibes” about his Jacksonville visit. Bortles is fully aware of the Jaguars plan to sit him early on.
“Obviously they have Chad Henne and obviously I have things to work on,” admitted Bortles. “I’ve never looked at an NFL playbook. I would have no problem [sitting as a rookie], but I would go into practice and prepare everyday as a starter.”