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Blake Bortles 'absolutely' can be franchise QB, Bears QB says

Jordan Palmer has been an NFL quarterback for five seasons and has seen a lot of signal-callers, and he says that UCF's Blake Bortles "absolutely" can be a franchise quarterback.

Bortles is in play to be the No. 1 pick in the draft and considered one of the top three quarterbacks available in this draft class.

Palmer, 29, has played for Cincinnati, Jacksonville and Chicago in his career and was hired by EXOS -- an athlete training center -- to work with quarterbacks. This year, that meant hands-on training with Bortles, Wyoming's Brett Smith, San Jose State's David Fales and Washington's Keith Price. Palmer has been part of the "Elite 11" quarterback camps for 15 years, and he says this is a natural extension of that. But don't call him a quarterback guru or a quarterback architect or a quarterback coach. Palmer told College Football 24/7 he is a quarterback consultant.

Palmer said his job is to assess quarterbacks and expose them to different things, from throwing mechanics to how to learn a playbook. Palmer, who was with the Bears last season, says Bortles was an apt pupil.

"He's the type of guy who can lead a team," Palmer said. "Football is the most important thing in his life, and he's one of the most coachable people I've ever been around."

Being coachable, Palmer said, is not being a "yes, sir; no, sir" person. Instead, it's being willing to listen, ask questions, then incorporate theories you have learned into practice.

Palmer said he and Bortles worked on the field and in the film room, which included watching game video of Bortles as well as video of elite quarterbacks.

Palmer also designed a playbook for Bortles and his other quarterbacks. Palmer has played in five systems and said there are general themes in each, including concepts, protections and routes. He said it was important for quarterbacks to truly learn a playbook, not simply "stare at it and memorize it." That means learning formations, then moving on to concepts and the like.

He said he worked with Bortles and the other quarterbacks from early January through mid-March. In Bortles' case, that meant working with him through his March 19 pro day, which drew raves. Bortles ran a 65-pass session supervised by Palmer. "I thought he did really well," Palmer said.

Bortles now will work out on his own, which will include private team workouts, while Palmer gets himself ready to play in 2014.

Palmer's take on the other quarterbacks he has worked with:

Fales: Palmer spent the least amount of time with him but was puzzled by those who questioned Fales' arm strength. "I think he's got one of the strongest arms in the draft," said Palmer, saying those who question Fales' arm must not have watched much video of him. Palmer calls Fales a "confident guy" who's "athletic in the pocket," and said Fales played in the "most pro-ready offense" of the quarterbacks he worked with.

Smith: Palmer said he was "very surprised" that Smith wasn't invited to last month's NFL Scouting Combine but said Smith "used the chip on his shoulder" to have a good pro day. "Teams that will take the time to watch his pro day workout will work him out" privately, Palmer asserted. He said Smith is the fastest and most explosive quarterback in the draft, citing his 4.51 clocking in the 40 and his broad jump of 10 foot, 8 inches at Wyoming's recent pro day.

Price: His height -- he was listed at 6-foot-1 by Washington -- is considered a drawback, but Palmer said "height is becoming less and less relevant" in the NFL these days. Palmer said Price, who was not invited to the combine, has "a big arm," "a lot of grit" and a "magnetic personality." He also said Price reminds him of Baltimore Ravens backup Tyrod Taylor. Price's pro day is April 2, and Palmer said he thinks Price's performance will intrigue some NFL teams.

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

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