Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


NFL Combine aftermath: quarterback Blake Bortles

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: February 26, 2014 - 3:16 PM

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles crept into consideration as the top overall pick in the draft heading into the NFL Combine. Yet he still decided to throw at the event, unlike Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

It turned out to be a great idea as he threw the ball well. Bortles checked in at 6-5, 232 pounds with 9 3/8-inch hands and led all quarterbacks with a 32.5-inch vertical jump and a 115-inch broad jump. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.93, which was decent given his size. With his size and mobility, Bortles is drawing comparsions to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Opinions vary on whether he can become an immediate starter, however. Some think Bortles should sit out a year and continue to develop. It’s the biggest downside to Bortles, but he has the most potential of the top three quarterbacks in the draft (Manziel and Bridgewater) because of his raw talent.

If Bortles, or any quarterback, gets picked first overall by the Texans, it’s unlikely the Vikings draft a quarterback with the eighth pick. The Jaguars, Browns and Raiders all select ahead of the Vikings and need a quarterback as well.

Bortles could also fall to the Vikings at eighth because there isn’t a clear cut favorite between the top three quarterbacks. There are also some talented non-quarterbacks in this deep draft that a team might pass on Bortles, Bridgewater and Manziel to address another need in the first round. 

Bortles will get another shot to separate himself from Bridgewater and Manziel at UCF’s Pro Day on March 19. 

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