Blake Bortles looks like he’ll be a handful in the NFL

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I’ve been hiding in my underground lair trying to crack the QB mystery. While I had hoped to create something like the Phenom Index for quarterbacks where we adjust production by age, I have nothing to report yet. In fact, I haven’t written anything about quarterbacks in 2014 (except this blasphemous article about Nick Foles and Andrew Luck). So, with the NFL draft being a week away, I figure it’s time to sound off on the 2014 QB class. Up first is Mr. Lindsey Duke (on the left), also known as Blake Bortles.  Although the RotoViz composite QB rankings had Bortles at #3, I think you’ll be surprised to see how he compares to the big, agile passers that have preceded him.

It’s really important to clarify that what you’re about to read should be thought of as descriptive rather than predictive. Predicting quarterbacks is very difficult, but I think that generating comparables based on key descriptors can be really helpful. In the case of Blake Bortles, he is known as being a big quarterback with good movement skills and a great passing record. In case you’ve been living under a rock, he’s also probably going to be drafted highly in the first round, which means he’ll probably be given many chances to succeed and contribute to your fantasy football team. Let’s take a look at other top 100 draft picks who have similar size, athleticism and throwing ability as Bortles, based on these criteria:

  • at least 6’3 and 220lbs
  • at least 500 career rushing yards
  • adjusted yard/attempt over 7.8  (this cutoff was chosen because it is exactly one yard lower than Bortles mark of 8.8.  Shawn Siegele has more info about AY/A)

Note that I’m using collegiate career numbers because I have reason to believe that they’re more useful than final season. “F Age” is the player’s age at the end of their final collegiate season.

PLAYERHtWtOverallF AgeRu Yds3ConeAY/A
Blake Bortles77232522.05617.088.8
Cam Newton77248121.615866.9210.9
Tim Tebow752362522.429476.6610.4
Andrew Luck76234122.39576.809.5
Daunte Culpepper762551121.910037.218.5
Colin Kaepernick772333623.241126.858.4
EJ Manuel772371622.88277.088.3
Vince Young77229322.631277.9

Everyone on this list, except Tebow and Manuel, posted top 10 fantasy seasons within the first three years of their career. Heck, even Tebow averaged 19 fantasy points in his starts.  Basically, what you’re getting from a guy like Bortles–remember, he’s ranked 3rd of the rookie QBs–is a player who will probably be an every week starter, will have useful passing numbers and will contribute rushing yards and probably a handful of touchdowns each season.  Oh, and he’ll probably be relatively cheap to acquire in every format.  Me likey.

Why should we care about career rushing yards? Honestly, maybe we shouldn’t, but I do think they have some utility. Unlike the NFL, the college game counts sacks against a player’s rushing total, so posting 500+ career rushing yards tells me that Blake Bortles:

  • avoids sacks (which would have counted as negative rush yards in college)
  • and/or recognizes defenses well enough to change plays and avoid taking losses
  • and/or has functional athleticism that allows him to elude defenders and get upfield for positive yardage and the occasional touchdown

All of those things sound desirable to me. Now consider his career AY/A, which is well above average for the 2014 quarterback class and is on par with Teddy Bridgewater and Zach Mettenberger, and you’ve got a big, mobile and talented quarterback who looks to be a terrific option for fantasy teams and probably NFL teams too. So, although Bortles has spent his college football career in the shadows, he has the profile of a high end quarterback.

While the previous table contained only players in the top 100, I’m including the following table to show you everyone who meets the criteria outlined above. SPOILER: the list is the same except for the addition of Darron Thomas who played QB at Oregon for Chip Kelly. In other words, Bortles’ combination of size, maneuverability and passing talent is incredibly rare.

PLAYERHtWtoverallF AgeRu Yds3ConeAY/A
Blake Bortles77232522.05617.088.8
Cam Newton77248121.615866.9210.9
Tim Tebow752362522.429476.6610.4
Andrew Luck76234122.39576.809.5
Darron Thomas7522027021.67197.178.8
Daunte Culpepper762551121.910037.218.5
Colin Kaepernick772333623.241126.858.4
EJ Manuel772371622.88277.088.3
Vince Young77229322.631277.9


Jon Moore is a contributor at RotoViz and a coach at RotoAcademy.  Continue this conversation with him on Twitter or Google+.

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