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O-Zone: Draft for the long haul

JACKSONVILLE – All Blake Bortles all the time this morning. Of course.

Let's get to it … Dustin from Jacksonville:
Wow, John!! I knew this pick was a possibility, but out of all of the scenarios, I gave Bortles slim odds. Caldwell has his quarterback. Now, it's #inguswetrust.
John: You're not the only one who gave Blake Bortles slim odds to go to the Jaguars. I did, too – and so did many, many draft analysts. Few, if any, "respected" mock drafters projected Bortles to the Jaguars, and you know what? That was by design. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell rarely mentioned Bortles in the pre-draft buildup, and he certainly didn't talk about him in the way he did, say, Johnny Manziel or even Teddy Bridgewater. There was no reason from Caldwell's view to talk about Bortles or to generate more interest in Bortles than necessary. He knew who he wanted and he knew he wanted Bortles. As to your last points, yes, Caldwell and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley have their quarterback. The tone is set. This is the direction of the franchise.
Jarred from Las Vegas, NV:
I have to say I am pretty pumped about this pick. It sure was a surprise but Dave got his guy and I am excited to see how it plays out. #standunited
John: Hey, one for Blake!
Huh? From Jacksonville:
How does Caldwell lie and say he thinks Manziel is the best QB, but ends up drafting Bortles. Better not be another Gabbert.
John: Ah, the difference between what is said and what is heard. Caldwell never said that Johnny Manziel was the best quarterback in the draft. But, BUT, BUT!!!!! No, Caldwell didn't say that. He said Manziel was perhaps the quarterback most ready to play immediately, but his reasoning behind that statement was that Manziel wasn't going to change much from Year 1 to Year 2 so there wouldn't be much to be gained from letting Manziel wait to play. Manziel, in that sense, "is what he is." The Jaguars see a quarterback in Bortles who is perhaps not ready to play immediately, but who has the best skill set of any of the quarterbacks in the draft. I certainly understand how Caldwell's words could be interpreted as saying Manziel is the best, but that just as certainly wasn't what was said.
Austin from Atlanta, GA:
John, talk about keeping a secret huh?
John: I'll say.
Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville:
You are probably getting a lot of these e-mails but I have to ask: How can you possibly draft a QB at No. 3 that you are not starting Day 1? Seriously, people that are drafted in the first round are supposed to be starting-level talent. It is not like Henne is a world-class quarterback. This is very confusing and disappointing for many of us fans. If Bortles is good enough to be the third pick, PLAY HIM!!!!
John: I guess we may as well start this dialogue now and get used to it. It appears it's going to be a long-term topic – certainly until Bortles begins playing. You draft for the long haul, not the next season. The Jaguars are going to allow Bortles to develop at his own pace because they feel that's the best approach to allow him to grow.
Mr. Padre from Kingsland, GA:
So, do we assume Caldwell did not believe Bortles would be available at No. 9? It makes sense that if the Bills were willing to give up next year's first-rounder to move to No. 4 they would have done the same to move to No. 3 to take Watkins. So, couldn't we have still drafted Bortles at No. 9 AND gotten another first-rounder for next year along with a No. 3?
John: You may well be right, and the Jaguars may well have been able to get Bortles at No. 9. Another team also might have taken him before No. 9. What we can assume is that David Caldwell didn't believe it was worth the risk of trading back. The rule of trading back in the draft is never trade back if you can't stomach losing the player you want. Caldwell had his guy and made his pick. Now, he has to be right – as is the case with any Top 10 selection, particularly quarterback.
Gp from Savannah, GA:
John, Bortles! We could have had Watkins or Mack. Not impressed with the talent that was available on the board. Clearly not a BAP.
John: We'll see soon enough – if, that is, three or four years is soon enough.
Aaron from Chehalis, WA:
So, the Jaguars have a new quarterback. During the post-draft interview, Gus Bradley said that if Clowney was still on the board Bortles would have still been the pick. I thought that was quite a statement. On more than one occasion he referred to Bortles as "clean" (and Joeckel for that matter). How much do you think character played into this selection?
John: You're right that Bradley's words were "quite a statement." It's the sort of statement that defines drafts and is oft-quoted depending on how careers play out. It also shows just how much the Jaguars like Bortles. This was a selection that everyone in the organization – scouts, coaches, David Caldwell, etc. – agreed upon. As for your final point, when scouts refer to a player as "clean" they mean his entire resume/profile – skill set, character, worth ethic, etc., etc. Bortles was a clean prospect in the sense that all of those things checked out well. That includes, but is not limited to, character.
Aaron from Seattle, WA:
I want to get behind the Bortles pick because I believe in the direction Caldwell and Bradley are taking us. That being said, Bortles doesn't strike you as an accurate guy on tape. His spiral is very questionable. His footwork is also very questionable. All I see in Bortles is a tall and tough quarterback, who can run, can occasionally make a great throw, and is a true competitor. I don't see Luck or Manning in Bortles. What do the Jags see, John? Please help me out!
John: The issues you highlight are the points many analysts made about Bortles before the draft. They presumably make up some of the reasons that Bortles is not expected to play immediately. The Jaguars are aware that Bortles is not the perfect prospect. That's why they're not planning to play him right away. The Jaguars also believe that Bortles is the best quarterback prospect for the long haul in this draft. That's why they selected him No. 3 overall.
AP from Section 410:
How about one fer no more one fers?
John: How about one fer staying in your lane?
Chris from Delray Beach, FL:
The only thing that concerns me about the pick is if he starts the season on the bench and plays minimally this season it is basically a wasted draft pick. With so many other holes to fill I don't know how you take a guy for the "future"......
John: Because the future is far more often than not and far more often than most people realize what the NFL Draft is about. There are exceptions, but for the most part if you believe a player is going to make your team dramatically better as a rookie then you're going to be disappointed.
Scott from Boise, ID:
The only way history will justify that reach, is if he makes the Hall of Fame.
John: Really? A player has to make the Hall of Fame to be worth the No. 3 overall selection? I would argue that's not true. I don't doubt that Bortles needs to be very good. That would be the case with any quarterback taken in the Top 5, not just one that surprised fans. I would also argue that he needs to help the Jaguars to multiple playoff appearances. But for the sake of argument, I'm not sure Matt Ryan is headed to the Hall of Fame, but he was the No. 3 overall selection in the draft and I'd also argue that by that measure he already has been a very good selection for the Falcons.
Brian from Atlanta, GA:
The team went and smoke-screened all of us by not saying much and letting us read into things they did say too much. What clever fellas. I know he's still a little raw, but he has all the tools, I'm excited to see him in the preseason.
John: I wrote and said several times before the draft that Caldwell wasn't a smoke screen guy. I may have to rethink that assessment.
Scott from Gilbert, AZ:
Johnny O- Taking the deal the Bills gave the Browns would've been the ticket. Blake would have more than likely been there at No. 10 to go along with a one and a four in '15. How do you not take that chance in lieu of a guy that will still need a year to develop?
John: You say Bortles more than likely would have been there at No. 10. I say I'm not so sure that can be assumed. Here's why you don't take that chance: David Caldwell believed Bortles was the right quarterback and believed he needed to take him at No. 3 to get him. As for the year of development, that doesn't factor into the decision on draft day. You're not drafting for 2014. You're drafting for the long haul. Haven't I heard that somewhere?

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