As a former part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jimmy Haslam wants to bring the same stability to the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately, he’s off to a rough start having fired head coach Rob Chudzinski after just one year. At this rate, the next coach needs to be here at least 20 years. Hey, wait a second. Josh McDaniels is only 37.
Another big part of that stability comes with the quarterback position, however. We don’t need to hash over Ben Roethlisberger’s accomplishments here on a Cleveland sports site, but Factory of Sadness is curious if Haslam sees the similarities between Roethlisberger and rising QB draft prospect Blake Bortles of the University of Central Florida.
Coming out of Miami University, a mid-major program like UCF, Roethlisberger was known to have a big arm. He was also known to be elusive in the backfield. At the time, James Alder of About Football reported, “He has great escapability, often making the first defender miss. He also throws with incredible accuracy on the run… especially for a player of his size.”
In regards to Bortles, a recent scouting report by Patrick Karraker of Rant Sports reveals:
“Bortles seems to have all the most desirable qualities for an NFL signal-caller: size, a strong arm and accuracy. Perhaps most importantly, Bortles is an ideal candidate to contend with an NFL pass rush. He has great composure with defensive linemen coming at him, knows when to get rid of the ball and has fantastic mobility to extend the play if necessary.”
Sound like someone you know?
Bortles is 6’4”, 230 pounds compared with Roethlisberger at 6’5”, 240 pounds. With the same size and strength, both are able to shake tacklers, keep their eyes downfield and capably pass on the run. And check out the eerily similar accuracy and passer rating each of them had in their final college season:
Roethlisberger: 69.1% accuracy, 165.8 rating
Bortles: 68.1% accuracy, 163.3 rating
In the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, Bortles completed 20 of 31 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 93 yards and another score, proving to a lot of people that the level of competition he faced during the season was basically irrelevant. In fact, UCF was a 17-point underdog to Baylor going into the game.
Comparing QBs coming out of college to current players is a common trend. Bleacher Report made the same comparison of Ryan Mallett to Roethlisberger three years ago:
“Mallett stands eerily similar at 6’6”, 238 pounds. Both quarterbacks possess top-notch arm strength, an uncanny ability to break a tackle (thanks to that size) and they both even seem to carry themselves the same.”
We recently posted a column on Mallett and why he’s a possibility for Cleveland, but Bortles’ mobility adds another dynamic that Mallett does not possess. His ability to extend and make plays gives the comparisons to Roethlisberger more weight. So we’d be just fine if Mr. Haslam recognizes the similarities and the Browns take him with the 4th overall pick. Bortles is still somewhat of a project, but that’s all right as long as he’s able to build on his momentum and improve his footwork when he gets to the next level.
Add that to the fact many fans are content with giving Brian Hoyer another chance after his injury, drafting Bortles is an excellent answer in that situation. While we don’t believe Hoyer is the long-term answer, it would provide Bortles a chance to learn for a year before his hands are thrown into the fire. And who knows, Hoyer might still not be ready for the start of the season.