The Jaguars should draft ... Blake Bortles

May, 2, 2014
May 2
7:15
PM ET
Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? That's a question that GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round May 8. Not that they're asking, but I'm here to offer help. Every day until the first round I'll argue for a certain player. We're going to go with the caveat that each of the players is available when the Jaguars make their selection.

Today I make the case for quarterback Blake Bortles. Monday will be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Remember all that stuff we talked about Thursday regarding Johnny Manziel?

The ability to make plays outside the pocket, to improvise, to extend plays? That all applies to Blake Bortles, too. But there's one additional thing that he has that Manziel doesn't.

Size.

There are no concerns about the former Central Florida standout's frame. He's 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds -- close to ideal size for an NFL quarterback.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bortles
AP Photo/Michael ConroyBlake Bortles' ability to tweak his mechanics so quickly bodes well for his mental maturity.
Bortles isn't as accomplished as Manziel on the collegiate level, but numerous scouts and analysts believe his best football is ahead of him and what happened during his pro day is their best evidence.

There were concerns about Bortles' mechanics and scouts, and analysts dissected his flaws on tape after the Knights' season ended. The biggest issues were 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.

That he was able to clean up those issues relatively quickly is a huge plus about his mental makeup. In addition, there's the report by the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran on a Jacksonville radio show that Bortles took over the room during a meeting with Jaguars coaches and personnel.

Considering that GM David Caldwell recently said the No. 1 quality he wants in a quarterback is leadership, that's another argument for the Jaguars to take Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick.

There are additional concerns about Bortles because he played in a spread offense and threw a lot of one-read passes. He didn't have to sit in the pocket and go through three or more reads. A lot of the throws were short passes, too. Evaluating him means projecting that he'll be able to adjust to a pro-style offense and become more comfortable taking snaps under center.

But he's the most physically impressive of the big three quarterbacks and he does have the ability to escape and turn a broken play into a big one. There's also less of a worry about him getting hit than Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater. His size will allow him to take more punishment.

The Jaguars have said they don't want a rookie quarterback to play right away. They want him to sit and learn behind Chad Henne. That would benefit Bortles because he has the most upside of any of the top quarterbacks in the draft.

Taking Bortles may not help in 2014, but it would pay off in 2015 and beyond.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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