Thanks to higher-profile first-round quarterbacks and the low profile that comes from six years and counting of no playoff berths, the Jaguars have been able to avoid plenty of the attention that otherwise would come from having the third overall pick in the draft supposedly parked behind a career journeyman.
That could soon be ending. Recent rave reviews of rookie Blake Bortles combined with, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, a strong showing in Saturday night’s intrasquad scrimmage could make Bortles’ elevation to starter a Week One inevitability.
It was inevitable from the day of the draft. Teams don’t invest the third overall pick on a player who will languish on the bench. Like the Browns and Vikings, however, it makes sense to keep expectations and attention low by putting the player in a no-lose situation. If he doesn’t develop the way the team had hoped, he stays at No. 2, where he always was. Which is a lot better than making him the starter and then conceding before his first regular-season game that the team made a mistake by putting him at No. 1 on the depth chart — and that maybe the team made a bigger mistake by drafting him.
Bortles has been playing so well that even the guy who currently holds the starting job admits it.
“I thought he did a good job,” Chad Henne said of Bortles’ performance in the scrimmage. “All his reads were correct, going to the right places with the ball, and that’s all you want with a young guy: Make sure that the ball’s going to the right place and making good decisions out there.”
Coach Gus Bradley was more concise.
“The consistency, he’s starting to get it,” Bradley said of Bortles. “So that’s good.”
It’ll be even better if Bradley decides what his former boss, Pete Carroll, decided two years ago in Seattle — that the rookie deserves the job. In 2012, Russell Wilson was a third-round pick. For the Jaguars, it’s not nearly the same stretch to give the job to the third overall selection.