Several months ago, it was thought that either Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater or South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney were going to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, other players like Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews and his teammate, QB Johnny Manziel, have also been discussed as the potential top overall pick. Now, you can add Central Florida QB Blake Bortles to the list of potential number one’s as well.
Bortles has always been considered a high pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. But it wasn’t until new Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien talked highly of him that Bortles has suddenly leapt up the mock draft charts. “Blake is a good-sized guy. He’s an athletic guy for his size. He’s an accurate passer,” O’Brien said. “The guys who coached him at Central Florida think highly of him as a young man who really studies the game. He works hard at the game.”
If it seems like O’Brien is especially high on Bortles, he’s because he got to see the young signal caller up close and personal. The 6’4″ QB led Central Florida over O’Brien’s Penn State team by a score of 34-31. Bortles had 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in that contest.
Aside from seeing him play, O’Brien also had a connection to Bortles through UCF coach George O’Leary. The former Penn State coach worked under O’Leary for eight seasons at Georgia Tech. So he should get a very accurate and favorable scouting report from O’Leary.
Another factor that goes in Bortles’ favor is the fact that he’s a prototypical pocket passer, something which neither Bridgewater nor Manziel are. Given that O’Brien’s college offense centered around a pocket passer, he’s likely to look for the same when he’s running the Texans next season.
Of course, we can’t quite rule out Jadeveon Clowney, despite him not living up to the sky-high expectations placed on him this past college football season. However, there’s no denying Clowney’s talent, which was easily evident in a sophomore year where he racked up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses. Add in the fact that Houston owner Bob McNair said his team is open to taking a defensive player first, and this is a likely possibility.
Provided the Texans take Clowney, the Rams would likely take another position other than quarterback, seeing as how they have Sam Bradford already. This would leave the Jacksonville Jaguars (third), Cleveland Browns (fourth) and Oakland Raiders (fifth) left to scoop Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel. All three of these teams desperately want a QB of the future, and they could find it this year.
With so much uncertainty at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft, it’ll definitely be exciting to see who goes where. Whatever happens, though, hopefully none of the top picks end up on the list of biggest NFL Draft busts.