UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is in play to become the overall No. 1 pick in May's draft, and one current NFL quarterback who has worked closely with Bortles likes what he has seen.
Bortles is one of four quarterbacks who has worked with NFL backup Jordan Palmer the past two months, and Palmer has been impressed.
"I am not an expert on where he is going to go and what team, but I just know what I see," Palmer told the Chicago Tribune. "He is a very, very good player, and he is going to be able to do whatever he wants in the league.
"He's got all the intangibles. He is big. He is a way-above-average athlete for being 230 pounds and has a big arm. He is a mentally tough guy. He has all the tools to have a great career."
Palmer, 29, has played for three NFL teams since entering the league in 2008 and ended the 2013 season with the Chicago Bears. He is the quarterback coach at the EXOS training facility in Carlsbad, Calif. The Tribune reported that he is believed to be the only current quarterback "deeply involved" in pre-draft training.
Palmer also has worked with San Jose State's David Fales, Washington's Keith Price and Wyoming's Brett Smith this year. Price and Smith were not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.
"I have taken the universal concepts, universal protections and formations that you will find in any NFL offense, and I built an offense," Palmer told the Tribune. "I am installing it, not just to learn the offense but to teach them how to learn an offense. What you don't do when you are learning an offense is stare at the playbook and try to memorize it."
He said he also has taught the quarterbacks "to learn how to take notes, learn how to study, learn how you learn. That can be more valuable than teaching them anything else at this point because at no point in my career has that not been absolutely imperative."
Bortles has not decided whether he will throw at the combine; Fales has said he definitely will. NFL Media senior draft analyst Gil Brandt has said Bortles is among the players with the most to prove at the combine. Brandt said, "I always worry a little about guys who burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere."
Of the top three quarterbacks available in the draft -- Bortles, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel -- Bortles best fits the mold of a prototypical pocket passer, which is the type of offense new Texans coach Bill O'Brien ran at Penn State and the type of offense he oversaw when he was the New England Patriots' offensive coordinator.
Bortles led UCF to a 34-31 victory over O'Brien's Penn State team on Sept. 14; he threw for 288 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. O'Brien also is close to UCF coach George O'Leary, who is one of his mentors: O'Brien worked for eight seasons under O'Leary at Georgia Tech. In addition, the Texans' new quarterback coach is George Godsey, who was hired away from the New England Patriots' staff; Godsey was UCF's running backs coach in 2010, when Bortles redshirted as a true freshman.