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UCF's Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson both entering NFL draft

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Matt York/Associated Press
UCF RB Storm Johnson ranks 33rd in the FBS with 1,139 yards rushing.

UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, as expected, announced Monday that he is bypassing his senior season to turn pro.

The Knights' program, fresh off a Fiesta Bowl upset of Baylor, took a double-whammy Monday: Tailback Storm Johnson announced that he, too, is turning pro.

Bortles (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) skyrocketed up draft boards this season, his second as the Knights' starter. He could be in play as the potential No. 1 overall pick, although NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks said last month that he viewed Bortles as a borderline first-round prospect.

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He has a good arm and excellent mobility, and proved to be a clutch performer this season in leading UCF on four fourth-quarter comebacks. In addition, UCF won seven games by seven or fewer points.

Bortles' size, physical tools and athleticism give him a big upside -- maybe the biggest of any quarterback in the draft. But he is by no means a finished product, and there are questions about how good he can be.

"I see a good player with a lot of upside, but I don't see a transcendent star that will significantly change the fortunes of a dismal franchise," Brooks wrote. "Now, that doesn't mean he can't be an effective starter for a team, but I believe it will take him some time to develop into a solid player as a pro."

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has compared Bortles to Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who has been erratic in his three NFL seasons.

Bortles threw for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season, and also rushed for 272 yards and six TDs. He showed off his running ability in the Fiesta Bowl, rushing for a career-high 93 yards on eight carries.

In his two seasons as UCF's full-time starter, Bortles threw for 6,640 yards, 50 TDs and 16 picks; he also completed 65.3 percent of his passes.

Johnson's departure hurts, too. He led UCF in rushing this season with 1,139 yards and 14 TDs. Johnson (6-0, 215) began his career at Miami before transferring.

He lacks elite speed, but he still is quick enough to turn the corner and strong enough to run between the tackles. He is a physical runner who does not shy away from contact.

This season, he also proved he can be an effective receiver. Johnson has 30 receptions and three TD catches; he had 11 catches combined in his first two college seasons.

One aspect that might appeal to NFL teams is that Johnson hasn't taken that much punishment. Johnson has carried the ball more than 20 times in a game only once in his career and averaged 16.4 carries per game in sharing time this season. He had a big game against Baylor, rushing for 124 yards and three TDs on 20 carries.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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