Is Blake Bortles Becoming A 2014 NFL Draft First Round Sleeper?


Nov 16, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; UCF Knights quarterback Blake Bortles (5) passes the ball during the fourth quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. UCF defeated Temple 39-36. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

As if the 2014 NFL draft quarterback class weren’t talented enough, it seems they have somebody late to the party.  Could UCF star Blake Bortles give himself a big enough boost to reach the first round?

Temple triumph reminds many of Teddy Bridgewater toppling for Bortles

Never mind the physical attributes.  Given his size, mobility and arm strength there really isn’t anything flawed about what Bortles can do on the football field.  What scouts would likely then look for is the mental side of the game:  mechanics, decision-making, consistency and above all clutch.  Every one of those aspects were glowing from the UCF quarterback against Temple.  He completed 27-of-38 passes for 404 yards, threw four touchdowns and no interceptions.  On top of that he was at his very best in the 4th quarter.  His first touchdown got the lead early 29-28, but after Temple regained the lead 36-29, he led the Knights on a drive to tie it with just 1:06 remaining.  Then, getting the ball back one last time, rather than settle for overtime he connected on a huge 64-yard pass that setup a game-winning field goal as time expired.  It was the kind of performance that got Bortles noticed in the first place, reminding many of his impressive showing against Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville.  Could this mean the draft has another potential name to add to the first round?

Bryce Petty and Derek Carr making huge pushes for the same honor

If so then he isn’t alone.  A number of other second-tier program quarterbacks continue to shine this college football season.  The most popular of late is FresnoState starter Derek Carr.  Brother to a former number one overall pick, the position is in his blood and he’s proven that with some of the best statistical outings of the year.  His Bulldogs remain undefeated and popular picks for a major bowl bid.  Another name leaping up boards is surprise Baylor star Bryce Petty.  Like Bortles he has flashed his ability as a runner but also surprisingly impressed with his ability to throw and throw accurately.  His Bears are undefeated as well and coming off a drubbing of Texas Tech in which Petty threw three touchdowns and ran for two more.  Provided both of them don’t suffer letdowns before the end of the season, all they need are strong workout showings during the off-season and they are serious contenders for the first round too.

Blake Bortles doesn’t get a lot of credit because of the program he plays for, but that hasn’t stopped him from making his case to become a major target in the 2014 NFL draft.