Blake Bortles: Top Pick in 2014 NFL Draft?

blake-bortles-top-draft-pickSeveral 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.

blake-bortles-top-draft-pick-1Aside 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.

Should the Texans really trade the Number One Pick?

teddy-bridgewater-louisvilleNothing in the NFL news will overshadow the Wild Card games this weekend. Nevertheless, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair did manage to steal a headline or two when he declared that Houston is open to trading the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. “Maybe we’ll trade down and still get a quarterback that can do the job and get an outstanding defensive player,” McNair said. “It’s an exciting time. Everything’s a moving target. Lot of different pieces.”

When you lose 14 games in a row like the Texans did, you should be open to anything. But is this a draft where Houston really wants to trade the top selection away for more picks? After all, many consider this draft to be pretty rich in quarterbacks, and if anybody needs an outstanding signal caller, it is the Texans. But on the other hand, maybe McNair is saying this because they haven’t fallen in love with any players.

With Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater officially declaring for the draft, many see him as the best quarterback prospect available. Several months ago, it was considered a two-man battle between Bridgewater and South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney for who’d be the number one overall pick in 2014. However, Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews has since shot up the board and is also in contention for the top selection. This being said, is it worth holding on to the number one overall pick for Houston?

johnny-manzielThis is an especially pertinent question when you consider that other worthy quarterbacks like A&M’s Johnny Manziel, UCF’s Blake Bortles, and Fresno State’s Derek Carr all warrant high first-round consideration. Okay, so you can probably thrown Derek Carr out of the mix because his older brother, David, didn’t exactly pan out as Houston’s inaugural draft pick.

Chances are, though, the Texans are taking a quarterback at some point in the first round, whether they trade down for a lower pick or keep the number one selection. They’ve got Matt Schaub and Case Keenum on the roster right now. Schaub is looked at as an aging has-been who contributed to Houston’s downfall with all of his pick-sixes. Keenum showed some flashes of brilliance, but he never clearly locked down the starting QB role when given a chance.

Of course, there’s always the potential curveball, where Houston could take a defensive player or offensive tackle like Matthews. Texans general manager Rick Smith alluded to this with the following statement:

I don’t think you take a particular position just because you need a particular position at any point in the draft, especially the first pick. So we’ll rank it, we’ll value it, and we’ll make good choices if the opportunity presents itself to move back because it is a very valuable pick, and we’ll entertain those as well.

Looking at Houston’s history, it may not be so crazy to go defense with the top overall choice. In 2007, they made the controversial decision to select DE Mario Williams over the more-electrifying and popular pick, Reggie Bush. And while Bush has had his share of NFL success, it is Williams whom many think boasts the better career. Taking this into consideration, Clowney, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack can’t be left out of the number-one-overall discussion either.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that McNair has already created some NFL Draft excitement months in advance of the big day.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 5 (Oct. 4th, 2013)

alabama-number-oneLast week’s college football action featured a very high-profile matchup between #6 LSU and #9 Georgia. And this game was as good as advertised, with Georgia escaping with a 44-41 win at home. QB Aaron Murray threw a 25-yard touchdown to Justin Scott-Wesley with 1:47 remaining to pull out the victory.

After playing four very tough opponents to open the year, Georgia is now in the national championship race, despite having one loss. They’ll be hoping that some of the following teams lose so they can move up in the AP rankings and into a BCS National Championship game spot.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0); beat Ole Miss 25-0, retains same ranking – Alabama made a ranked Ole Miss team look quite pedestrian in this shutout. And this is a big accomplishment, given that the Rebels have one of the nation’s best offenses. They gained just 205 yards of total offense in this game though.

2. Oregon Ducks (4-0); beat Cal 55-16, retains same ranking – Even in heavy rain, the Ducks couldn’t be slowed down. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota threw a couple of TD passes in this monsoon. The same can’t be said of Cal freshman Jared Goff, who came into this contest with a nation-leading 453 passing yards per game. He couldn’t grip the ball and finished 3-of-6 for 11 yards before being replaced.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0); beat Wisconsin 31-24, retains same ranking – Ohio State has now won 17 straight games after dispatching the braxton-miller-ohio-state#23 Badgers. Braxton Miller threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns after sitting out for a couple of games with an injury. He and the Bucks face an even bigger test on the road at #16 Northwestern.

4. Clemson Tigers (4-0); beat Wake Forrest 56-7, retains same ranking – Tajh Boyd became just the second ACC quarterback besides Philip Rivers to throw for 100 career touchdown passes in this route. Clemson now goes on the road to face a mediocre Syracuse team.

5. Stanford Cardinals (4-0); beat Washington State 55-17, retains same ranking – Stanford pounded Washington State by tallying 238 rushing yards with five different backs. QB Kevin Hogan added another 286 passing yards and three TD’s for the unbeaten Cardinals.

6. Georgia Bulldogs (3-1); beat LSU 44-41, moves up 3 spots – The Bulldogs make the biggest jump in our rankings, thanks to their win over the Tigers. Assuming Georgia can run the table from here on out, they’ll likely be in the national title game.

7. Texas A&M Aggies (3-1); beat Arkansas 45-33, moves up 1 spotmike-evans-texasNot surprisingly, Johnny Manziel had another big game after gaining 320 yards of total offense and throwing two touchdown passes. WR Mike Evans also continues to impress after catching 6 balls for 118 yards and two touchdowns in this contest.

8. Louisville Cardinals (4-0); bye week, drops 1 spot – The Cardinals had a week to rest before their American Athletic Conference opener at Temple. It may be a while before Louisville runs into any real tough opponents.

9. Florida State Seminoles (4-0); beat Boston College 48-24, moves up 1 spot – FSU got off to a rocky start after going down 17-3 to the Eagles. But super freshman Jameis Winston brought the Seminoles out of their funk by connecting with Kenny Shaw on a hail mail TD before halftime. FSU has now topped 40 points in every game this year.

10. LSU Tigers (4-1); lost to Georgia 44-41, drops 4 spots – You can’t fault the Tigers too much for losing to a strong Georgia team on the road. But LSU could’ve moved into the top 5 if they’d mustered a winning drive with 1:47 left.

College Football Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 20th, 2013)

alabama-texas-amNow three weeks into the 2013 college football season, we’ve already see some big matchups. The most notable involved the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide taking on Mr. Heisman Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies last weekend. Despite strong performances by Manziel, WR Mike Evans and RB Ben Malena, the Tide proved too much to handle. That said, it’s little surprise who our top team is in this week’s power rankings.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (2-0); beat Texas A&M 49-42 – Alabama may have given up 628 yards of total offense to the Aggies, but then again, they were facing an elite team. The Tide did what they needed to do to win, and put lots of points on the board themselves.

2. Oregon Ducks (3-0); beat Tennessee 59-14 – Oregon hung the first loss on a previously unbeaten Tennessee team, and looked incredible while doing so. Marcus Mariota showed why he’s one of the top prospects heading into the 2014 NFL Draft after putting up 456 passing yards and 4 TD’s against the hapless Vols.

kenny-guiton-osu3. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0); beat Cal 52-34 – Most teams would struggle mightily in the absence of their Heisman Trophy candidate. But the Buckeyes just inserted backup QB Kenny Guiton for Braxton Miller (sprained MCL) and scored 52 points on the Golden Bears. OSU still hasn’t been beaten since 2011.

4. Clemson Tigers (3-0); beat NC State 26-14 (Sept 19th) – You could make a case for the Tigers being as high as number two on this list. After all, they beat Georgia to open the year and polished off a tough NC State team on the road. Assuming the wins keep coming, Clemson will keep climbing.

5. LSU Tigers (3-0); beat Kent State 45-13 – The Tigers quickly put the Golden Flashes away after scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Following two easy home victories, they face their biggest test since TCU, as unbeaten Auburn comes to Baton Rouge.

6. Stanford Cardinals (2-0); beat Army 34-20 – Few people expected Army to go into the half only trailing by 7 last Saturday. But the Cardinals were able to pull away thanks to a pair of second-half Tyler Gaffney touchdowns. Stanford will try to look more impressive this week against fellow unbeaten Arizona State tomorrow.

teddy-bridgewater-draft7. Louisville Cardinals (3-0); beat Kentucky 27-13 – Nobody expects the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry game to be a cakewalk. And this was definitely the case in the first half as the Cardinals led just 10-3 at the half. Interestingly enough, Louisville relied on RB Senorise Perry (100YDS, 2TD) to carry them in the second half, rather than famed QB Teddy Bridgewater.

8. Texas A&M Aggies (2-1); lost to Alabama 49-42 – A&M is hurting after a close loss at home to the Crimson Tide. But with a ton of offensive talent and plenty more quality opponents on the schedule, the Aggies’ title hopes haven’t been dashed just yet.

9. Georgia Bulldogs (1-1); beat South Carolina 41-30 – Nobody’s going to argue with Georgia’s early strength of schedule after facing Clemson and South Carolina to open the year. The Bulldogs piled up 536 yards of offense to top the Gamecocks and avoid starting 0-2.

10. Florida State Seminoles (2-0) – Star freshman QB Jameis Winston is definitely living up to the hype after throwing six touchdowns in his first two games. And as many people have pointed out, this is more than the five incompletions he’s thrown. Assuming Winston remains poised, FSU should be undefeated when they travel to Clemson in Week 8.

College Football Power Rankings – 2012 Championship Week Edition

We’re now down to the final week before bowl games are decided and the BCS title matchup is figured out. As for the latter, we’re simply waiting to decide who undefeated Notre Dame plays for the championship. At this point, Alabama appears to be in control of their own destiny, but that destiny won’t be easy to reach with a game against third-ranked Georgia looming ahead. Let’s discuss these three teams and more in our latest power rankings.

1. Alabama (11-1) – Throughout most of the season, many people thought Alabama would never be beaten. However, they lost a close game against Texas A&M a couple weeks ago and were sent into a tailspin. But Alabama has since recovered and looked marvelous during a beatdown of rival Auburn.

Last Game: 49-0 win over Auburn
Next Game: vs. Georgia (SEC Championship)

2. Ntore Dame (12-0) – Is it fair that the Irish drop a spot from our previous power rankings following a road win against USC? First off, Notre Dame got a break when Matt Barkley was sidelined with an injury, leaving freshman Max Wittek to make his first career start. Secondly, the Irish have won most of their games in ugly, defensive battles. They get a chance to prove all of the critics wrong in the BCS Championship though.

Last Game: 22-13 win over USC
Next Game: TBD (BCS Championship)

3. Ohio State (12-0) – It’s never easy to cap off an undefeated season – just ask Oregon, Kansas State or Alabama. However, the Buckeyes did pull off this impressive accomplishment and deserve some credit. They probably would’ve been playing the Irish in Miami had it not been for NCAA sanctions.

Last Game: 26-21 win over Michigan
Season is finished

4. Oregon (11-1) – Just three weeks ago, Oregon was riding high and looking at a clear shot at the BCS Championship game. Now they won’t even get to play in the Pac-10 Championship game due to the Stanford loss. It’ll be interesting to see what bowl game the Ducks land in now.

Last Game: 48-24 win over Oregon State
Next Game: TBD

5. Georgia (11-1) – While we consider the Bulldogs to be just a little less good than the top four teams on this list, none of it means anything if they can win the SEC title. Essentially, this matchup with Alabama is like a big playoff game before the championship.

Last Game: 42-10 win over Georgia Tech
Next Game: vs. Alabama (SEC Championship)

6. Texas A&M (10-2) – If the season restarted today, A&M could possibly be the top team in the eyes of voters. Johnny “Football” Manziel took another step closer to winning the Heisman after throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns against Missouri.

Last Game: 59-29 win over Missouri
Next Game: TBD

7. Florida (11-1) – Despite having one loss, the Gators dropped out of our top 10 rankings after some atrocious offensive performances. However, they leaped back into our rankings after beating ACC standout and rival Florida State. Now they could be Sugar Bowl-bound.

Last Game: 37-26 win over Florida State
Next Game: TBD

8. Stanford (10-2) – The Cardinals easily defeated UCLA to set up a rematch between these two teams in the Pac-10 Championship. Based on this road game blowout, we have to heavily favor Stanford in the rematch as well.

Last Game: 35-17 win over UCLA
Next Game: vs. UCLA (Pac-10 Championship)

9. LSU (10-2) – While the Tigers did nothing deserving of dropping two spots in our power rankings, other teams just shined more in the last week of the regular season. With Florida, Georgia and Alabama fighting over two BCS bowl bids, LSU is left out of the party.

Last Game: 20-13 win over Arkansas
Next Game: TBD

10. Kansas State (10-1)  – K-State is just one of those teams that got lost in the shuffle at season’s end. Of course, getting blown out by a mediocre Baylor team will do that to you. It’ll also put an end to any Heisman hopes that Collin Klein had.

Last Game: Bye
Next Game: TBD

College Football Power Rankings for Nov. 21st, 2012


For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the possibility of several unbeaten teams at the end of the season. But just like many other years in the past, most of these unbeatens have fallen by the wayside with Oregon and Kansas State joining the one-loss club. So how does this affect our power rankings? Let’s take a look right now….

1. Notre Dame (11-0) – If the BCS system was based on pretty victories, Notre Dame wouldn’t be in the top 10. But as it stands, the Irish have found a way to win every game and are one of only two unbeaten teams in college football – and one of them is ineligible for bowl games. All that stands in between the Irish and the title game is a tough road game against USC.

Last Game: 38-0 win over Wake Forest
Next Game: at USC Trojans

2. Alabama (10-1) – Just a week after the Crimson Tide wondered if they’d have any shot at a national title, they’re back in control of their own destiny. But don’t confuse controlling destiny with having a clear shot to the title. A potential SEC Championship game against Georgia looms within the next two weeks.

Last Game: 49-0 win over Western Carolina
Next Game: vs. Auburn Tigers

3. Oregon Ducks (10-1) – The Ducks were rolling towards a national title game, and suddenly, they might not even win the Pac-10 North. Now Oregon is going to be rooting for UCLA to beat Stanford just so they have a shot at the Pac-10 Championship. An upcoming game against the Beavers is certainly not going to be easy for the Ducks either.

Last Game: 17-14 (OT) loss to Stanford
Next Game: at Oregon State Beavers

4. Georgia (10-1) – Who would have thought that Georgia would be in the national title picture at this point? Assuming they can beat a solid Georgia Tech team, the Bulldogs actually have a shot at a BCS title if they can beat Alabama….but that’s a big IF!

Last Game: 45-14 win over Georgia Southern
Next Game: vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

5. Texas A&M (9-2) – The Aggies are by far our favorite two-loss team since they managed to prove that Alabama wasn’t as unbeatable as everybody thought. QB Johnny Manziel appears to be a Heisman trophy front runner now as well.

Last Game: 47-28 win over Sam Houston State
Next Game: vs. Missouri Tigers

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0) – Despite an undefeated record, nobody considers Ohio State to be the nation’s best team thanks to a fairly easy schedule. Even still, they’ve found ways to win and could top off an undefeated year by beating hated rival Michigan.

Last Game: 21-14 (OT) win over Wisconsin
Next Game: vs. Michigan Wolverines

7. LSU (9-2) – The Tigers appear to be the SEC’s odd team out with a pair of losses. Even with this being the case, a victory at Arkansas could put them in an at-large BCS bowl game.

Last Game: 41-35 win over Ole Miss
Next Game: at Arkansas Razorbacks

8. Florida State (10-1) – It’s funny how little respect the Seminoles have gotten despite having just one loss. Much of this lack of respect comes from a mediocre ACC and a poor out-of-conference schedule. All of this could be thrown out the window though if Florida State wins against Florida this week.

Last Game: 41-14 win over Maryland
Next Game: vs. Florida Gators

9. Kansas State Wildcats (10-1) – The Wildcats take a major tumble in our power rankings thanks to a beating at the hands of Baylor. Nobody expected the Bears to win against K-State, much less dominate them. QB Collin Klein’s Heisman hopes are now finished and so are the Wildcats national championship aspirations.

Last Game: 52-24 loss to Baylor
Next Game: vs. Texas Longhorns (Dec. 1st)

10. Stanford (9-2) – The Cardinals make their first appearance in our top 10 after a dramatic overtime victory against Oregon. And they could be climbing further with wins over UCLA (to clinch Pac-10 North) and a PAC-10 Championship victory against UCLA again.