Nobody can accuse Central Florida coach George O'Leary of overselling quarterback prospect Blake Bortles, who led O'Leary's team to its first BCS bowl appearance last season. O'Leary's definition of a franchise quarterback might be a little more lofty than others, but nevertheless, he doesn't see one in the 2014 draft, and that includes his own player.
"I think a franchise quarterback comes out once every 10 years, and he came out last year in (Andrew) Luck," O'Leary said on Houston area radio show MaD Radio. "The ones I see succeed are understudies."
Actually, it was two years ago that Luck came out, but the point is taken: O'Leary sees not only Bortles but Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, and any other quarterback in the draft as a group that will need some time getting accustomed to the next level. He's not alone.
New Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien has coached under O'Leary, so you can bet he can get a private assessment of Bortles from O'Leary that's every bit as honest, or more. Bortles is among the possibilities for Houston with the top overall pick, which could set a new course for the Texans franchise on May 8. Bortles completed 68 percent of his passes as a junior for 3,581 yards, 25 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. O'Leary is a believer in his potential, if not sold on his ability to have an explosive rookie season.
"Blake has all the things you're looking for in a quarterback as far as size and mental capacity to handle a lot of things," O'Leary said. "But that first year is tough because those guys are moving a lot faster than the college guys. ... Blake is going to be fine-tuned to what he needs to get done in the pro ranks. He's a quick study and a quick learner."
NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks doesn't put Bortles' potential on the same tier with that of Manziel or Bridgewater.
For O'Leary, he'll just need time.