There were a few doubters when Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell selected Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the third overall pick of the 2014 draft.
With the second-year quarterback showing signs of developing, the group of doubters is dwindling. After going 3-10 in Bortles’ rookie year, the Jaguars are 5-8 and in contention in the weak AFC South.
He’s thrown 30 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, trailing only New England’s Tom Brady (33) and Arizona’s Carson Palmer (31) in touchdown passes this season.
Bortles attributes his growth to seeing more live NFL repetitions and playing in games. He’s started 26 games.
“The longer that myself and the rest of us are in this system, the more comfortable we’re going to get,” Bortles said. “The more I think we’ll be able to own it as an offense and grow within it.”
The Jaguars have surrounded him with weapons. Wide receivers Allen Robinson (12) and Allen Hurns (eight) have combined for 20 touchdowns. They also signed tight end Julius Thomas to give Bortles another explosive option.
“They do an unbelievable job,” Bortles said of Robinson and Hurns. “Just by their numbers, you can tell that they have had successful seasons.”
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.