Blake Bortles is a guy that has been flying under everybody's radar for the entire season. Everybody, except mine. Let it be known now:
I am, and have been, high on the Blake Bortles kid.
The timing of this blog couldn't be worse, with Bortles shooting up everybody's draft boards as of late (except WalterFootball's, where he isn't even listed). If I write this three months ago, I look like a genius today.
Bortles has been silently putting up solid numbers all season long.
Passing for 3,038 yards, 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, Bortles has been the key cog in the well-oiled machine that is UCF this season. Unfortunately, that "machine" feeds on teams in the newly created American Athletic Conference (AAC), known previously as the Big East Conference. However, that doesn't mean Bortles hasn't faced solid competition. UCF beat a rebuilding, yet surprisingly solid, Penn State team only three weeks into the season, then nearly took down a ranked South Carolina Gamecock squad the next week and then followed that close loss with a victory over a ranked Lousville squad two weeks later.
What's more impressive, however, is Bortles' performance during those games. Bortles picked apart South Carolina's 11th-ranked defense through the air, passing for 350 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 36 attempts.
Through the "gauntlet" of UCF's schedule (29th ranked Penn State defense, 11th ranked South Carolina defense, 23rd ranked Louisville defense), Bortles passed for nearly 900 yards, 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Bortles has been a key contributor in UCF's 10-1 record as well as the catalyst for their rise up the BCS standings to their current rank of 16.
6'4, 230, Bortles is a physical specimen. He stands tall in the pocket and
is one of the rare NCAA QB's who seems just as comfortable under
center as he is out of the gun.
Bortles has a somewhat extended release, which can be troublesome as that can be the difference between a completion and a sack in the NFL. However, his motion shows no major flaws (floating elbow, low release point, wind up, etc.). With proper coaching, Bortles' release can be compacted which, in turn, may add some extra velocity to his passes. His release varies from over the top to three quarters depending on the situation, which can be either a blessing or a curse. Bortles has tremendous body control, delivering the ball from a number of less than ideal positions. He possesses a Stafford-like ability to deliver accurate passes sidearmed, while falling, with 600 pounds of sweaty linemen rolling over his lower half.
Bortles' most redeeming quality seems to be his ability to salvage plays. On two
separate occasions, he's lost control of the ball mid throw,
recovered the fumble, evaded the rush and found open receivers down
the field (one of which for a TD).
Bortles is mobile and evasive within the pocket, while not being a runner per se (148 rushing yards on the season).
His biggest knock is his footwork. It's less than ideal for a junior with two starting seasons under his belt. Bortles routinely
falls away from his throws even when the pocket is clean. He
sometimes exhibits a hitch in his drop back, most notably when the
defense is showing blitz or he's feeling pressured.
-NFL caliber arm
-Quick feet for a player his size
-Is large enough to withstand hits, yet quick enough to be elusive
-Loses little to no velocity on passes thrown while on the run