Blake Bortles fans will not have to travel far to see the former UCF star play at the next level. Thursday night the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Bortles 3rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“To be able to stay in Florida is unbelievable,” said Bortles on ESPN following his selection. “I’m so excited I can’t wait.”
The selection makes Blake the highest drafted UCF player in history. QB Daunte Culpepper was the previous highest draft pick when he was selected 11th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in 1999.
Bortles wrapped up his career at UCF this past January with a New Years day victory leading the Knights to their first ever BCS birth resulting in a win over Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 52-42.
Bortles finished his career at UCF passing for 7598 yds and 25 tds while only accumulating 19 interceptions. His athleticism, speed and accuracy improved dramatically throughout the his Sophomore and Junior year.
"Hes everything we believed in. High character, high competitive guy, intelligent and a very good leader." Said Jaguars GM David Caldwell of Drafting Bortles 3rd overall.
He improved his QBR from 144.5 in 2012 to 163.4 this past season. His average yard per completion improved as well from 7.7 in 2012 to 9.4 in 2013. Lastly consistency is key and he showed this with his improved accuracy completing 67.8% of his passes in 2013 compared to a 62.9 in 2012.
As Blake wrapped up his college career he significantly made his mark in the Knights history book currently holding first in career marks at UCF in Efficiency (153.76), Interception-To-Attempt Ratio (.021), Consecutive Attempts Without an Interception (232), Seasons With 3,000 or More Passing Yards (2) and last but certainly not least, Longest Pass Completion which came on a pass to sophomore Breshad Perriman for a 91-yard touchdown down the right sideline against Akron in week one last season.
Caldwell said in an interview with ESPN's Trey Wingo "Chad's (Henne) gonna be our starter." He reiterated "Blake's got some work to do, just some refinement with his footwork. We just want to bring him along."
So Blake will not be getting the reigns yet, but the future of the Oviedo native looks bright.
"We made a commitment." said Caldwell of drafting Bortles. " From our Owner to myself to our coaching staff to make this decision work." He also spoke on the future of Bortles saying "Picking in te Top 5 and you can get a quarterback to be with you with you 10, 12, 14 years, we feel good that we want to bring him along slowly."
Jaguar’s mini camp starts in just 8 days on May 16th. The first time Bortles will get to see any action an NFL opponent close to home will be August 8th when Jacksonville faces the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on August 8th during week 2 of the pre-season.
The future looks bright as Blake Bortles enters the professional level, a hometown kid staying close to home leading his hometown team to the Fiesta Bowl and the school's most memorable season ever.
Now he joins the Jacksonville Jaguars organization and looks to continue his dream as well as his legacy. There is no doubt that it will be interesting to watch the future of this prospect, he has the brains, the patience and the intangibles to make it as an impact player in the NFL. That all mixed with God's gift of an arm, Blake Bortles might be a name that we don't soon forget.