NEW YORK -- With the third pick in the first round, the Jacksonville Jaguars select UCF quarterback Blake Bortles.
Bortles entered his junior season with little fanfare, unlike Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel, whom many pegged as first-round picks last summer. In fact, according to Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, the NFL Advisory Committee gave Bortles a second-round grade ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft.
CBSSports.com senior writer Pete Prisco praised the pick.
Blake Bortles to Jags: Love the pick. I knew they loved him and they had to get a QB. He's the right guy. GRADE: A+ http://t.co/KPxAyHqyNs— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 9, 2014
But the quarterback, who not only led UCF to the American Athletic Conference title but was instrumental in the Knights' Fiesta Bowl win over an explosive Baylor team, quietly made his way up draft boards in the weeks and months leading up to the May draft. Partly because of his combine, pro day and private workouts, but also because teams got a chance to watch film of a player who may not have been in a "big-time" football conference, but who showed well in games against South Carolina and Penn St during the season.
NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang describes Bortles as "A prototypically-built pocket passer with good awareness, athleticism and arm talent (who) looks the part of an NFL star quarterback ... (and) has the most upside of any quarterback in this class."
Here are the expected contract details via former NFL agent Joel Corry:
Blake Bortles should sign a fully GTD 4-year, $20,654,799 deal with a $3,755,418 '14 cap number. His signing bonus should be $13,341,672.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) May 9, 2014
While Bortles can make every throw, he does lack elite arm strength and his mechanics will need to be tightened up at the next level, but rarely does a player arrive in the NFL a finished product. The hope is that Bortles can do for the Jags what the previous franchise quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, never could.