Three rookie quarterbacks went in the first round of the draft. In their race to become the first to start in the NFL, is Blake Bortles making a late push?
Bortles shows his upside for Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars initially said their plans were to bring #3 overall draft pick Blake Bortles along slowly in 2014. That meant the starting job likely belonged to veteran Chad Henne. One preseason game in and minds have begun to change. Bortles looked more advanced than expected, completing seven passes for 117 yards and a 99.4 QBR. Henne had just 30 yards on four completions with two fumbles. Unless something changes drastically in the next game, the future may be now in Jacksonville.
Bridgewater losing steam while Matt Cassel forges ahead
On the flip side, going into the first preseason games it looked like the biggest threat to win a starting job among the rookie class was Teddy Bridgewater. The Minnesota Vikings 1st round pick was looking awfully good in practice. Sadly that didn’t translate to the field. Against Oakland, Bridgewater completed less than half of his passes, got sacked twice and fumbled once.
Meanwhile, the man he was poised to overtake, Matt Cassel had a superb game, going 5-of-6 for 62 yards and leading the only touchdown drive of the game. Worst yet, Bridgewater confounded his hiccup by throwing three interceptions in the teams’ next practice. Cassel may be just one more good game from locking up the starting job.
Johnny Manziel pulls dead even with Brian Hoyer in Cleveland
Pushing the hype aside is very important when attesting the progress of Johnny Maziel. He had some impact plays in his first preseason game for the Cleveland Browns, but he also showed a lot of the same issues that caused him to drop in the 1st round such as the unwillingness to consistently hang in the pocket or slide during a scramble. Work is still needed before the Browns can make a decision. Brian Hoyer didn’t look terrible in the opener despite a poor completion percentage. In truth the battle remains too close to call.
With all that going on, it’s fair to believe that Blake Bortles may be on the inside track to winning the race as the first rookie to start this 2014 NFL season.