Blake Bortles runs into the end zone. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft News: Blake Bortles, Kony Ealy

Blake Bortles could be the first quarterback taking in the 2014 NFL Draft due to the Bill O’Brien’s reported interest in the UCF Knights product, but he could also be the fourth QB taken in this year’s draft. There are so many opinions regarding the top four quarterbacks in this year’s draft class that just about anything could happen on draft day, thus making this year’s draft all the more exciting. Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Derek Carr all have the ability to be franchise quarterbacks, but I think every quarterback other than Bridgewater have serious question marks raised by some regarding their ability  to translate to the NFL. Bortles was the only of those four draft prospects to throw at the combine, and he certainly took full advantage of the opportunity to shine in front of weaker competition at the showcase event.

Most people believe that Bortles was clearly the most impressive QB at the combine during throwing drills, but a quick look at the rest of the field is a reminder of a key caveat; he had it easy. Still, Bortles’s strong workout only helps his draft stock, and it certainly seems like folks in the league have taken notice. An area scout told Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei that Bortles’s arm looked so impressive at the combine that he looked stronger than he did on tape, thus leading to the scout wanting to take a closer look at him. Another scout told Pompei that Bortles was the most impressive QB at the combine, but that comment shouldn’t take anyone by surprise. The point is that Bortles helped his draft stock noticeably by performing so well last week.

One first-round prospect who didn’t perform so well at the showcase event is Missouri Tigers defensive end Kony Ealy. Even though his poor performance wasn’t as hotly discussed as the subpar workout from fellow Missouri DE Michael Sam, Ealy’s subpar play at the combine was more surprising and more important in the context of this draft class.

A high-ranking exec told Pompei that he “didn’t see any sizzle” (somewhat paraphrasing) from Ealy at the combine, even though he was expecting to be impressed by him based on the Mizzou product’s tape. Ealy has been selected in the first round of some mock drafts, but it looks like he could slip outside of the top 20 as a result of his poor combine and concerns about his technique. That said, his versatility is intriguing (he can play as a DT or DE in the 4-3 scheme or a DE in the 3-4), and he could be a very good starting 4-3 DE in this league. In my opinion, Ealy is one of the most interesting top draft prospects to debate in the coming months.

Tags: Blake Bortles Football Kony Ealy Missouri Tigers NFL Draft UCF Knights

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