JACKSONVILLE – Surprise, surprise: Blake Bortles is coming to Jacksonville.
The Jaguars, in a move that surprised nearly every NFL analyst, on Thursday night made a move to secure their quarterback of the future, using their first selection of the 2014 NFL Draft – the No.3 selection overall – on Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.
The Houston Texans selected South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney No.1 overall and the St. Louis Rams selected Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson No. 2 overall. While a trade had been rumored before the Jaguars selected, that did not occur.
Bortles was widely considered one of the top players at the position, along with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
"It's so awesome," Bortles told ESPN moments after the draft. "I'm so excited. I can't wait."
Bortles (6-feet-5, 232 pounds), 22, also was considered the most prototypical quarterback available in the draft.
"I can't wait to get to Jacksonville," he said.
What he certainly is now is a player the Jaguars expect to be a cornerstone player for the future, and a player around whom Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Gus Bradley will continue a building process now in its second year.
Bortles, who played at Oviedo (Fla.) High School, forewent his senior season to enter the draft. He started the past two seasons, completing 585 of 891 passes for 7,598 yards and 56 touchdowns with 19 interceptions in three seasons at Central Florida.
Bortles' selection culminated a long pre-draft process for the Jaguars, a predraft process in which the team's top decision-makers – Caldwell, Bradley and Senior Vice President of Technology and Analytics Tony Khan – attended the Pro Day workouts of players such as Manziel, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Bortles and Clowney.
The team also had the above-mentioned players into Jacksonville for predraft visits along with projected Top 10 possibilities such as Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, Robinson, Watkins, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews and Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans.
The Jaguars in recent days had been linked to many of the above players in various mock drafts, particularly Watkins and Mack.