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Thursday, May 8, 2014
Jaguars pick Blake Bortles in 1st

By Michael DiRocco

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The pick: The Jaguars addressed perhaps their biggest need by selecting Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.

My take: It’s a bit of a surprise pick because general manager David Caldwell has already named Chad Henne the starter in 2014 and they weren’t expecting a rookie quarterback to play right away. That means they’re not counting on getting anything from the third overall pick in the draft this season and possibly even into next season. The Jaguars have holes all over the roster and could have gotten immediate impact players by taking linebacker Khalil Mack, who went fifth to Oakland, or wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who went fourth to Buffalo.  There’s no question the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Bortles is the most physically impressive quarterback in the draft. He has a big arm and moves well outside the pocket. However, he played in a spread offense that stressed shorter and more horizontal throws in college and will have to learn to play in the pocket.

Fixing flaws: Say this for Bortles: He's conscious of what he needs to do to improve. Analysts highlighted some poor mechanics and fundamentals on 2013 tape, specifically his lower body and footwork. Bortles obviously worked on that pretty hard in the first few months of 2014, because he was much cleaner in his mechanics at his pro day. His balance was better, the ball came out of his hand cleaner, his throwing motion was more economical and, as a result, he threw the ball harder and more accurately.

What’s next: The Jaguars don’t pick again until 39th overall (seventh pick in the second round) and still have pressing needs to address at pass-rusher and receiver. This is a deep draft at receiver, so the Jaguars could put off taking a receiver until the third round. Names to watch include Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews and Alabama’s Kevin Norwood, both of whom were on the South roster the Jaguars coached at the Senior Bowl.