UCF Knights quarterback Blake Bortles has been viewed as a 2014 NFL Draft prospect who will stay in school for another year, but it seems like there’s a growing sentiment that Bortles is more open to entering the draft than we thought before the season. He had an excellent 2012 campaign, but he really blew up this season and has even been touted as the best quarterback in the class by a few experts. While the majority of people don’t agree with this, there’s little doubt that Bortles would be one of the top quarterbacks selected in this draft class if he does decide to lead UCF. He’s wisely holding off on his decision until after the Knights face the Baylor Bears in the Fiesta Bowl, so it makes sense to at least include Bortles in most mock drafts to examine where he could get picked, as well as potential fits.
With the First Pick’s Peter Smith has his latest, excellent 2014 NFL Mock Draft up today, and he has Blake Bortles being taken off of the board by the Minnesota Vikings with the eight pick in the draft.
It’s a selection that I’m very much in agreement with, because Bortles is deserving of a top ten selection due to his arm strength, size, scrambling ability, decision-making, and intangibles. Bortles is aptly compared to a mini-Andrew Luck, and he has all the physical tools to be a great quarterback in the NFL. His decision-making and intangibles also put a stamp on his physical skill-set and legitimatize his chances of being one of the first three quarterbacks taken off of the board.
It’s no secret that the Vikings need a QB, and it would be unwise for them to pass up on a top ten pick. Matt Cassel doesn’t fit as a QB of the future, and Christian Ponder’s just doesn’t have the tools to be a franchise QB unless he has a great supporting cast. Bortles has much better size and arm strength than Ponder, and that’s going to be a big difference for the Vikings as they look to do a better job of getting the ball to playmakers downfield like Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. The Vikings are almost certainly not going to keep Josh Freeman, because they evidently don’t like him and he is probably upset with not being given a chance. He also doesn’t have a really good chance of being a franchise signal-caller either.
Bortles does, so he makes perfect sense for the Vikings, and this is a pick that is extremely difficult to criticize. Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater are already off of the board in this mock draft (interestingly enough, sleeper QB Brett Smith goes to the Cleveland Browns with the fifth pick in this mock), so Bortles makes even more sense for the Vikings.