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FTP: UCF's Bortles could fill Cards' needs

1/2/2014

Flush the Pocket will be your daily morning dose of the Arizona Cardinals. It’ll recap the top storyline from the previous day and give you a look at what everyone is saying locally and nationally.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It’s no secret that one of Arizona’s top draft needs is a quarterback.

The young gunslinger won’t be replacing Carson Palmer in 2014 -- well, pending an injury of course -- instead the draft pick would sit behind Palmer and learn the intricate offensive scheme that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians installed. We all saw how tough it was for a veteran to learn it when he was given five months to digest the playbook before the season. Imagine a rookie not named Andrew Luck doing that?

When Arizona picks a quarterback in the draft will all depend on how free agency goes. If they can lock up a free agent left tackle before the draft, then a quarterback might become more of a priority. But in the first round? It may not be out of the realm of possibility.

The Cardinals got a great look at Central Florida’s Blake Bortles on Wednesday. On a national stage under the bright lights of the Fiesta Bowl, the junior showed he can play on Sundays. He made a few mistakes -- As if Palmer didn’t this season? -- but he was making NFL-caliber throws all game, which ended with him throwing three touchdowns and 301 yards, leading the Knights to a 52-42 win over Baylor.

Bortles is the second-rated quarterback by ESPN, and at 6-foot-4, 228 pounds, he physically fits the description of an Arians-style quarterback. Palmer is 6-5, 235.

Arizona general manager Steve Keim has said that if the Cardinals fall in love with a college quarterback, they have to draft him. But the question becomes, will Bortles, who was named the Fiesta Bowl’s offensive MVP, be around when Arizona picks 20th? If Arizona even wants to go that route that early.

Bortles hasn’t decided if he’ll leave UCF early for the riches of the NFL draft, and according to some reports, he’s awaiting his NFL draft evaluation from the league. There’s no denying he proved he’s worthy of playing in the NFL, it’s just a matter of where he’ll be drafted.

And if he’ll drop to 20th.