AFC East: Blake Bortles

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 27-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
  • Grimes
    Grimes
    Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes knows it's rare for a defensive player to get into the end zone. Therefore, he savored every moment of his pick-six Sunday off Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blake Bortles. Grimes had a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter and gave the football to his wife, Miko Grimes, as a keepsake. It was Grimes’ second career touchdown in eight seasons. "You know, I always do that," Grimes said, laughing.
  • Defensive lineman Jared Odrick said he was cheering the whole way for his teammates to get in the end zone during Miami’s interception returns. Grimes’ 22-yard return was of the shorter variety. But safety Louis Delmas had an 81-yard return in the second quarter that opened the scoring. "It's an awesome thing," Odrick said after the game.
  • Delmas said he was gassed after his 81-yard return. "Dead tired," Delmas said, laughing. "I never thought I'd be out of shape. But I definitely have to go back to Miami and rush a couple gassers."

Examining the what-if QB question

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
3:00
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Only one team in the last 40 years has drafted a quarterback in the first round the year after picking one within the first two rounds -- the Carolina Panthers, who chose Cam Newton in 2011 to replace Jimmy Clausen, a second-rounder.

Could the New York Jets become the second team?

Unlikely, but it's a good talking point because of the uncertainty regarding the top three quarterbacks -- Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. In his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated's Peter King notes that four quarterback-needy teams in the top six are thinking hard about waiting until after their first pick to address the position. The teams: The Houston Texans (No. 1), Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 3), Cleveland Browns (No. 4) and Oakland Raiders (No. 5). The Minnesota Vikings (No. 8) didn't make the list, but they're also looking for a quarterback.

If one of the top three quarterbacks gets past the Vikings, it's possible he could fall all the way to the Jets at No. 18. What, then? It certainly would add to the drama at Radio City. Would the Jets, only one year removed from choosing Geno Smith in the second round, take another quarterback?

First of all, this isn't a Carolina situation for two reasons: Unlike Clausen, Smith showed some promise as a rookie. In addition, the Panthers owned the No. 1 pick when they drafted Newton, who was deemed a legitimate franchise quarterback. Most talent evaluators agree there are no quarterbacks of that ilk in this year's draft, just a group of intriguing prospects that fall into the good-not-great category.

Some believe the most likely to fall is Bridgewater, once considered a top-five pick. (Sound familiar, Geno?) If he slips to the Jets, they'd have to ask themselves: Is he better than Smith and could he be our starting quarterback in 2015? Personally, I'd pull the trigger if it were Manziel.

The organization is hopeful that Smith can become their long-term starter, but it's not sold on him. If that were the case, Michael Vick wouldn't be here. If the Jets have a strong conviction on Bridgewater (or any others), and he's clearly the best player on their board, they should take him. This is a quarterback-driven league, and you can't have sustainable success (where have we heard that before?) without a good quarterback.

That said, it would an upset if the Jets go in that direction. They have too many other needs and they're not ready to abandon Smith after only one season. If they picked a quarterback, the Smith trade rumors would begin about 30 seconds after the selection. Could you imagine Rex Ryan's reaction if his general manager picks a player that probably wouldn't be able to help until 2015? He'd have to pull a Sir Laurence Olivier to convince the fans he's on board with that one.

A similar situation played out in 2006, when the Jets were looking to move on from Chad Pennington. With the fourth pick, they resisted the quarterback temptation, passing on Matt Leinart to take tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They later looked into trading up for Leinart as he began to slide, but they wisely made no deal, walking out of the first round with Ferguson and center Nick Mangold.

In the end, this could all be a moot point because you know how teams react around draft time: When they're desperate for a quarterback, they panic and reach. If it turns out that Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel are picked in the top 17, it would benefit the Jets, as it would push a "need" player or two down to them.
The New England Patriots' in-house visits with quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater on Wednesday have created a buzz locally. The topic was brought up to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. on Thursday morning, and he shared his viewpoint/instinct on what the Patriots might be thinking:

Bridgewater
Manziel
“We’ve had this happen in the past where quarterbacks who were projected to go top-10 slid down. It happened with Aaron Rodgers. He was projected to be the No. 1 pick overall two to three weeks before that draft and he dropped into the 20s. He waited four full years to be the starting quarterback. But Green Bay went that route and look how it paid dividends for them. With [Tom] Brady getting up there now, [who] is the heir apparent? [They] brought in [Ryan] Mallett a few years ago.

“You look at Bridgewater, he could slide. After pick No. 8 [Minnesota], there is no team except Cleveland at 26 -- and if they take a quarterback at 4 they’re not taking one at 26 -- that would consider a quarterback. Maybe Tennessee [No. 11] possibly. These quarterbacks, if they get past [No.] 8, could drop.

“You heard what Mike Zimmer had to say about Manziel. You know Bridgewater’s stock has dropped since his pro day. Derek Carr, some like him, some don’t. So you really have to do all your due diligence, figure it all out, try to bring everybody in.

“At quarterback, if one of those guys was available and they slid -- a lot of mixed opinion on Manziel. [Blake] Bortles is more of a consensus now in the top 8. If one of those three, and probably Bridgewater would be the one -- I can’t see Manziel sliding out of the top 8 -- he could get down into the 20s. It’s happened before, with Brady Quinn. A lot of people thought [Andy] Dalton would go in the 20s and he didn’t. You look at Boomer Esiason in ’84 -- thought he could go in the early to mid first round and he went in the second round. You can go way back in time and this has happened before.”

Scouting combine: Final thoughts

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
6:00
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The NFL scouting combine wraps up Tuesday with on-field workouts for the defensive backs. We'll take this opportunity to put a bow on the combine, recapping it from a New York Jets' perspective:

1. Good hands people: This is one of those years where the Jets' top need marries with the strength of the draft. Everybody knows they want to rebuild at wide receiver, and the combine reinforced the widespread belief that receiver is perhaps the deepest position. Nearly all of the top wideouts performed well in drills, with Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Brandin Cooks (Oregon State), Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) and Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt) helping themselves the most. The Jets should be able to get a quality wideout with the 18th pick if they opt to go that route. The abundance of receivers could impact how they approach free agency.

2. Thin at tight end: The Jets may have to think twice about filling their tight-end need in the draft. North Carolina's Eric Ebron solidified his standing as the top tight end with a strong performance, but some of the other top prospects were limited by injuries. For players such as Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington), it means their pro days will carry greater importance. It's not a terribly deep position anyway.

3. Sanchez saga: The Jets met with Mark Sanchez's reps to discuss the quarterback's future. Nothing was settled, but Sanchez will be rehabbing in New Jersey this week, giving the Jets a chance to monitor his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder. One source said the chances of Sanchez returning are about 20 to 30 percent. Obviously, he'd have to accept a large pay cut. Look for this to play out until March 25, when a $2 million roster bonus is due -- or until they find his replacement.

4. Higher salary cap: The Jets aren't facing a cap squeeze, but it's always nice to have extra flexibility. The combine began with one report projecting the cap would increase to $130 million, up from $123 million last year. Then came another report saying it would be $132 million. The final number will be announced in the coming days. Either way, the Jets will have the ability to be aggressive in free agency. It'll be a departure from last year, when they were forced to bargain-shop.

5. Meet and greet: Teams were permitted to conduct 60 formal interviews at the combine. The Jets met with many of the top players, including Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, but don't put too much stock in these sitdowns. It's called due diligence. They will conduct hundreds of player interviews by draft day. In some cases, the combine interview is just a starting point. Example: The Jets weren't blown away by Geno Smith last year, but they scheduled a follow-up on the eve of his pro day. That's when they became more comfortable with him.

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