Bortles should get boost from pro day

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
5:55
PM ET
 

The reviews from Blake Bortles’ pro day were positive.

Which in my mind cements him as the Cleveland Browns' top choice at quarterback, if they take a quarterback with the fourth pick, which I’m not at all convinced they will do.

I will caution that none of this is based on inside information. The Browns are very close-to-the-vest on their information. I just see the Browns acting in a much more solid and traditional way in free agency, and not trying to outthink the world with their signings. They’ve added needs, made some smart moves, not overpaid and improved the team.

Thus it seems logical that Bortles would fit the mold of the quarterback they want playing in Cleveland. He’s big, thick, has a strong enough arm and will develop. Will they take him fourth? I have no idea. I just know this pro day probably cemented his standing with the team.

“He did everything you’d ask and that’s what you want from a potential first-round quarterback,” Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said in quotes distributed to the media. “You just want to check the boxes and that’s why 95 percent of the workouts are good from high-level quarterbacks because they come in, you see arm strength, you see accuracy, you see movement skills and today we saw all of that.”

The thing is, it also may have cemented Bortles' standing with the Houston Texans, who have the first overall pick.

“I was very impressed,” new Texans coach Bill O’Brien told the Houston Chronicle, a statement echoed by Houston GM Rick Smith.

It was a pro day. And we spend a lot of time writing about pro days while diminishing them because they are set up for a quarterback to look good. But when a guy doesn’t look good, like Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville recently, it’s concerning. When he does, he validates previous thinking.

The Browns reportedly sent GM Ray Farmer and some scouts to meet with Bortles, but Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net reported they did not stay for the workout, instead choosing to work Bortles out in Cleveland privately. Farmer was at Bridgewater’s pro day, with Johnny Manziel’s still to come.

Greg Bedard of SI.com wrote a very insightful and compelling story on Bortles, and how he could be an excellent player if a team is willing to wait a year or two for him to develop. That’s been the thinking on him since he declared for the draft -- a team will have to wait. But with the rookie wage cap, a team can also afford to wait.

“I think the word for this kid is potential,” Mayock said. “He’s young, he’s got a lot of work to do – I can see that on tape – but what I saw out there is he’s potentially a franchise quarterback.”

Want to risk your job and career on that assessment?

Combine the challenge in projecting Bortles with the inherent difficulty in selecting a quarterback, and the challenge is not easy. All anyone can do is base their best judgment on where a guy is now, and where he may be in two or three years.

Where the Browns stand will be known on draft day.

For now, I offer the following two thoughts: It would surprise me mildly if the Browns took Bortles fourth overall, but it would not surprise me in the least if Bortles is the top-ranked quarterback on their board.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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