The 2014 NFL Draft is almost here — finally! The draft is normally held in April, but the NFL pushed it back this year to begin on Thursday, May 8. This year’s draft is intriguing mainly because, more than any other year, no one really knows what is going to happen. It will be very entertaining to watch the draft unfold.
The New England Patriots have the 29th overall selection in this year’s draft. Given that this is a deep draft and the fact that the Patriots have many needs to fill but not one glaring need, they should trade down and acquire more picks. If the Patriots keep their 29th pick, selecting Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin or a DE would be wise. The Patriots could also try and trade backup QB Ryan Mallet (entering the final year of his contract) and select LSU QB Zach Mettenberger, who will most likely still be available in the second round and possibly even the third.
For a second, though, let’s reach and say that since just about anything can happen during the draft (no one had Geno Smith falling to the second round last year), UCF QB Blake Bortles falls to 29. If the Patriots were to select Bortles at 29, that wouldn’t be the worst first-round pick they could make. Is it likely Bortles is available at 29 with the number of the teams picking 1-28 that could use a QB? No. If somehow he was, however, would it be likely a team would want to make a trade to jump back into the first-round so they could grab him? Yes. If that is the case, would the Patriots most likely be able to work a deal that was favorable to them? Yes, and that would be the smart play, but selecting Bortles wouldn’t be the worst pick either.
The Patriots have to plan for life after Tom Brady, and they know that, as evidenced by the fact that they visited and worked out a number of QBs in this year’s draft, including Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Aaron Murray (Georgia) and the aforementioned Mettenberger.
Bortles could end up being be a really good QB in the NFL. He has incredible pocket awareness and a pretty strong arm. Bortles is kind of a combination of Andrew Luck (intelligence) and Ben Roethlisberger (size – he’s 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds with ability to move in the pocket), which could prove to be extremely useful in the NFL. Bortles has also proven to be calm in critical situations when the game is on the line. Bortles also sees the field very well and keeps his eyes down the field while moving in the pocket.
Is Bortles a franchise QB at the moment? No. He worked mainly out of the shotgun in college and he will have to adapt to playing under center. His footwork gets a little sloppy when he’s pressured, and the closing speed of NFL defensive backs will probably shock Bortles; he’ll have to adjust to that and be better when he’s under pressure. All of that being said, Bortles has the tools to be a really good QB at the next level. Think how good he could wind up being if he has the patience to sit and learn from Brady.