UCF quarterback Blake Bortles has drawn numerous comparisons to Pittsburgh Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, including from Jon Gruden, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Bortles has worked with Roethlisberger in his pre-draft preparations.
Josh Norris of rotoworld.com reported on twitter that Bortles and Roethlisberger "have worked together some during the pre-draft process."
Bortles' size (he's 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds) has led to most of the comparisons to Roethlisberger (6-5, 241), who was the No. 11 pick in the 2004 draft. Roethlisberger has a stronger arm, but Bortles is the better overall athlete. While Roethlisberger is an effective scrambler, Bortles showed an ability to hurt opponents on designed runs at UCF.
Bortles is in play to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, as he would seem to fit what new Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien wants in a quarterback. But Bortles isn't necessarily the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the draft.
Bortles is the No. 3 quarterback and the No. 19 overall player on NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah's list of the top 50 prospects, but Jeremiah does have Bortles as the first quarterback off the board in his latest mock draft, to Oakland at No. 5. Fellow analyst Bucky Brooks has Bortles as the No. 3 quarterback and the No. 16 overall player in his Big Board. And analyst Mike Mayock has Bortles as the No. 2 quarterback in his positional player rankings.
Bortles has worked extensively with NFL backup quarterback Jordan Palmer, and presumably Bortles has worked with Roethlisberger on some of the same things, including recognizing coverages, getting into the right protections and just basically learning how to be an NFL quarterback.
If Bortles is indeed to be the next Roethlisberger, he has some work to do. Roethlisberger has thrown for 34,105 yards and 219 TDs in his 10-year career with the Steelers. Roethlisberger has led Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl titles in his career and is 10-4 in the playoffs.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at email@example.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.