The Jacksonville Jaguars shocked the world on Thursday evening, selecting UCF quarterback Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Some people thought quarterback was still in play for the Jaguars at No. 3 overall, but hardly anyone had the Jaguars picking Blake Bortles with their pick.
Bortles however, was always Dave Caldwell's guy, it appears.
"All the way into the season this has been a guy that we’ve known very well obviously being very close to us. Over the years I’ve seen him get better from the time he was a freshman there at Central Florida," Caldwell told reporters after the pick was made. "He’s a self-made guy, highly competitive, highly passionate about football; football is his only priority. I think for us in going through the process in the fall we were very high at him throughout the college season and there’s a point in time we thought we were going to be picking one in this draft obviously when we started 0-8."
For a general manager billed as "not a smokescreen guy," Caldwell fooled everyone with the pick. Literally no one knew who the Jaguars were picking, even as Caldwell was gathering intel from his staff on Bortles, who ended up being the team's consensus top quarterback.
"I was concerned about it but when our college staff got together and our coaching staff got together he was a unanimous consensus of the guy that we all wanted," Caldwell added. "I never let my feelings known to the personnel staff, never let them known to the coaching staff. Independently the coaches, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator did it without any collaboration with the scouts, without themselves and everybody kind of came up with the same guy we wanted with the first pick and that was Blake Bortles. We feel great about it and now he’s a Jaguar."
Clearly Caldwell identified his guy, his franchise quarterback and pulled the trigger, as he should do. That's what you have to do in the NFL when you're trying to get your quarterback. You have to identify your guy and pick him when you can.
Much has been made about the Jaguars "reaching" on Bortles because of how the other quarterbacks fell in the draft. Johnny Manziel tumbled all the way to the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick. Teddy Bridgewater nearly slipped out of the first round until the Minnesota Vikings moved up to pick him 32nd overall, but that doesn't mean that Blake Bortles would have fallen.
The Cleveland Browns traded out of the No. 4 pick, a move that has made a lot of people question the Bortles pick, as in why couldn't the Jaguars have done that and picked him at No. 9 overall and picked up the extra picks. How do we know the Browns didn't trade down because of the Jaguars picking Bortles?
There were multiple reports throughout the week that multiple NFL teams had Bortles as their No. 1 overall quarterback and some who had him at the top of their overall draft board. The teams who ended up picking quarterbacks in the first round passed them by in the Top 10 could have had Bortles as their top quarterback. The Vikings could have picked him.
We don't know. That's why you don't play around when you've graded out a quarterback as a franchise type guy. You pick him, because hopefully the Jaguars don't plan on picking in the Top 5 again anytime soon.
The plan going forward is for Blake Bortles to sit and learn, working on some of his mechanical issues while the team rolls Chad Henne out again for the 2014 season. That doesn't necessarily mean Bortles can't start Week 1 and it doesn't mean Bortles won't start at some point in the 2014 season.