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Blake Bortles No. 1 to the Texans makes sense

February 14, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



In a class that lacks a consensus top quarterback prospect, it shouldn't shock anyone if the

Houston Texans draft Central Florida's Blake Bartles with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

With the hire of head coach Bill O'Brien, it's a fair assumption that Houston will be targeting a quarterback at some point in the 2014 NFL Draft. And with the first pick, the Texans' think tank will have their choice of the litter, making quarterback an overwhelming favorite to go No. 1.

Plain and simple: the Texans need a new face at quarterback and Bartles has several traits that make him a logical fit in Houston.

Bartles is built well for NFL competition and has the make-up and skill-set that coaches and scouts seek in a "franchise" quarterback. At 6-4 and 230 pounds, he has good arm strength and downfield vision, but also quick feet and terrific mobility to be a threat with his legs.

Bartles has above average poise, pocket presence and overall feel for what's going on around him, showing the ability to execute under pressure and improvise when needed. His release and arm strength are similar to Andrew Luck and his size, mobility and clutch attributes are very reminiscent of a young Ben Roethlisberger. Bartles still has a long way to go before he's in the same league as either quarterback, but it's those natural traits that he consistently shows on film that has scouts making the comparisons.

Is he a flawless prospect? Of course not. Bartles allows his technique to get sloppy at times, which will cause erratic throws, and he wasn't always dominant in a mediocre-at-best conference.

But from a physical and mental standpoint, it's easy to see why some around the league view Bartles as the most desirable quarterback of the group.

Again, let's keep it simple: Bartles fits the mold for what NFL scouts and coaches, and specifically O'Brien, covet at the position.

O'Brien even had the chance to see Bartles first-hand during the 2013 season when Central Florida visited Happy Valley this past September and left with a 34-31 victory. Bartles finished the game 20-for-27 (74.1%} for 288 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, handing Penn State its first loss of the season. After the game, O'Brien had this to say about the Knights junior quarterback:

"Anytime you have a quarterback like [Blake Bartles], who is accurate, has a strong arm, is big, and can stand in the pocket and can run, it is a difficult challenge. He played a great game tonight and all the credit to him. I think he is a heck of a player. I didn't get a chance to meet him or say hello to him, but I think he is a heck of a player. He had a great game."

Sure, there is a lot of "coach speak" in there and the quote is based off one performance, but players like Sorties aren't often forgotten by offensive gurus like O'Brien. Especially a highly intelligent field general like Bortles who exudes toughness, leadership and confidence.

Sorties has a solid resume with 71 career touchdowns (56 passing, 15 rushing) and a .815 winning percentage as a starter (22-5 career record). But remember, NFL teams don't draft players based on what they've done, they draft players based on what teams think they will do.

Regardless if you or I think Sorties is worthy of the No. 1 pick, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that for many around the league, Bortles is the most appealing quarterback prospect in this draft class. Time will tell if he's "the guy" for the Texans, but, in my opinion, a Bortles-O'Brien marriage makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons and it shouldn't surprise anyone if or when it happens.

 


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