Blake Bortles escalated quickly

Four indisputable reasons the UCF QB is more likely to go boom than bust

Updated: April 30, 2014, 10:31 AM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

THE BIGGEST BUSTS in NFL draft history achieve the notoriety of Mrs. O'Leary's cow or Jeremy Giambi, sparking painful memories on anniversary after dreadful anniversary. Every spring, as the first round draws near, we read again about Ryan Leaf and watch recycled video of Akili Smith. And we relearn the lesson: Pin your hopes on the wrong quarterback and it can wreck your franchise for years.

Young quarterbacks are inherently unpredictable, we're told. As Malcolm Gladwell put it in 2008, "The job ... is so particular and specialized that there is no way to know who will succeed at it and who won't." You could, in fact, make a drinking game out of chugging every time you hear the phrase "the draft is a crapshoot" on Day 1, except you'd fall unconscious long before teams start picking players.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.