Blake Bortles, QB, UCF
With the seventh pick, the Buccaneers choose the hometown pick, Blake Bortles, as their quarterback of the future. Bortles grew up and played his high school ball at Oviedo High School before committing to the University of Central Florida as a relatively unheralded three-star QB prospect.
Tampa Bay has three primary positions of need: quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive guard . With the seventh pick, offensive guard is a poor selection in terms of value, especially considering the lack of viable first round options at the position. Mike Evans is available at WR, and he could be a smart pick here as well. However, the draft is fairly deep at WR, and the Bucs are a QB needy team. Mike Glennon performed admirably for a rookie, but he's only the second best goofy-looking toe-headed giraffe-like quarterback in a league that tends to favor less gangly QBs. The acquisition of Josh McCown suggests that the team is not completely sold on Glennon as the team's QBOTF. Still, McCown will be 35 when the season starts, and the former Hartford Colonials star and otherwhile mediocre journeyman seems unlikely to be in the team's long-term plans. Gambling on grabbing a solid WR on day two, the Bucs decide to reach for the third QB of the draft.
Bortles is an intriguing prospect. At 6'5" and 232lbs, Bortles has NFL size and will have no issue seeing over the line of scrimmage or taking some solid hits. While he entered the draft season as a relatively unheralded player, he now appears to be the consensus number one QB in the draft. Analysts are conflicted on his ceiling - some believe that he has the most potential of any QB in this draft (aside form perhaps Manziel) while others believe that he is a probable NFL bust. His footwork tends to be sloppy at times and his throwing motion is a little awkward. His throws come out wobbly, his deep ball is below average, and he played in a system that asked for a lot of quick reads and short passes out of the gun, making it difficult to analyze his prospects in an NFL offense. Also concerning is his relatively high number of fumbles and smallish hands.
Still, there are a lot of things to like about Bortles. His combine 40 time of 4.93 seconds is not terribly exciting, but his mobility and quickness are actually quite good for his size. His arm strength is not elite, but he has enough strength to make most throws in the NFL. His intermediate and short throws show sufficient zip and accuracy. He does a very good job anticipating the pass rush and takes few sacks. His passer vision is very good and he keeps his eyes downfield with good awareness. Bortles went 22-5 as a starter and he led UCF to two bowl game wins, including an upset victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl to net Central Florida its first major bowl title.
Frankly, I'm not a Bortles fan. I think he's a product of his system, an average talent, and is likely going to be a bust. Still, with only a few pressing needs and given the importance of the QB position in this league, Bortles is the pick here. Tampa Bay gets its QB of the future, or a new coach and GM in two years. Time will tell.
1 Houston Texans (Imp) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - [Explanation]
2 St. Louis Rams (starship 007) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - [Explanation]
3 Jacksonville Jaguars (sports00fan00) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, SC - [Explanation]
4 Cleveland Browns (InHinkieWeTrust) - Johnny Manziel, QB, TAMU - [Explanation]
5 Oakland Raiders (SleepingDuck) - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - [Explanation]
6 Atlanta Falcons (jimmyrustler) - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - [Explanation]
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AnthroEagle) - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF - [Explanation]
8 Minnesota Vikings (pot) -
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10 Detroit Lions (kamjam) -
11 Tennessee Titans (NowWhat?) -
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