2014 NFL draft: S&BP staff take on Blake Bortles

Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

The third quarterback on our list, our staff writers debate whether the Central Florida quarterback is a long-term answer in Oakland.

As we begin to round out the prospects on our list, we turn our attention to a guy who was a relative unknown to the general public prior to the release of a series of mock drafts. In fact, even as a college football fan, Bortles wasn't a guy on my radar while playing for Central Florida.

The good news for Bortles? While he may be unknown, upon first glance, Bortles actually has more of the look of an NFL quarterback than any of his competitors. At 6'4" and 230 pounds, Bortles has two inches and 35 pounds on Bridgewater and even more on Johnny Manziel.

As Raider fans could tell you better than anyone, however, physical frame doesn't guarantee success. But enough with that, let's get to the staff opinions.

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel) — Don't draft him

To put it bluntly, I just don't think Bortles is worthy of a top-five pick.

Of the three quarterbacks in the conversation for Oakland, Bortles had the worst numbers (25 touchdowns and 9 interceptions compared to 31/4 for Bridgewater and 37/13 for Manziel) — of course, Manziel was playing against much higher competition than the AAC that the other two played in. (Strike one).

Secondly, in big games, Bortles seemed to give his worst performances. Against South Carolina, Penn State, Louisville and Baylor, Bortles threw 10 touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Not only was his competition weaker, but when he did play against better teams and defenses, his play dipped. (Strike two).

Third, and finally, Bortles has simply come out of nowhere. In 2012, Bortles had nearly the exact same numbers as in 2013 and yet he found himself off of everyone's radar. In fact, in SB Nation's September mock draft, Bortles wasn't even in the first round. So why would a similar campaign in 2013 change things completely? Maybe some adjustments to form or mechanics, but at the end of the day, it's yet another red flag for me. (Strike three).

Marcus Allen Krause —TBD

How I feel about Blake Bortles is going to really end up depending on his NFL Combine performance. Luckily he has announced that he will throw so we will get some more data on him which is much needed — had he decided not to throw, it would have drastically reduced my interest in him.

The first thing I see when I look at Bortles is his size, out of the top QB prospects in this draft he is the easily the tallest at 6'4. That height is a definite plus, though Russell Wilson and Drew Brees have proven that shorter QB's can still be successful too. None the less, that size is intriguing.

Blake definitely still has a lot of growing to do as a QB, but he does have the potential to be a solid NFL player. He throws off his back foot too often which won't fly in the NFL and at times it makes his arm look not as strong as it really is. He does have nice touch and is surprisingly agile on the run for a man his size.

The Raiders need a QB and a lot of experts think Bortles could be that guy, but I am battle shy from previous QB experiences in Oakland. He would need to dominate the Combine for me to want to draft him, and if he does that then he might be gone by number 5 anyway. Until we see his Combine and Pro Day, I just can't advocate drafting him.

Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) - Don't draft him

I have gone back and forth on this one and to be honest this assessment was the one I was dreading the most because of my indecision. There are a lot unknowns with regard to Blake Bortles which make it tough to form an opinion on his talent level. From the perspective of scouts, he seems to have all the physical tools to be a great NFL quarterback. He is just relatively unknown and hasn't faced a lot of top talent or adversity.

On one hand, the great deal of investigating into Bortles' talent and character needed would lead me to believe that if the Raiders were to draft him it would only be after extensive research. Then again, if the Raiders came to the conclusion that Bortles was worth that pick, I think one of the three QB needy teams ahead of them would come to the same conclusion and therefore, Bortles would not be on the board when they pick.

On the other hand, Bortles is considered the most raw of the top three quarterbacks which means he needs to be drafted into the right situation to reach his potential. I believe that place to be Houston which is why I have him going number one overall in my latest mock draft.

RDreamer (@RaiderDamus) — Don't draft him

While Bortles has tremendous size and strength, he is far from the sort of polished passer you'd like to see taken in the top 5. While he is a "winner", and a guy who has engineered a lot of comebacks and beat some good teams on the road, he has also excelled against mediocre competition and struggled against some tougher teams.

Bortles is an excellent runner and doesn't take a lot of stupid sacks, but his huge frame belies his arm strength which is only slightly better than average. He looks like Ben Roethlisberger but plays more like Sam Bradford — who has held the Rams franchise hostage for years with his middling play, big potential and monstrous albatross contract. While Bortles is a good prospect and will be taken in the top 10, he isn't the sort of win-now guy the Raiders need.

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