Last week, UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that his former quarterback, Blake Bortles, “had a real comfort level” with the Vikings.
Today, UCF head coach George O’Leary also came out in support of his former quarterback heading north in an interview with Tomasson.
“I’d love to see [Bortles] go to Minnesota,” O’Leary told Tomasson. “I think any young quarterback would love to have the running game they have.”
Having Adrian Peterson in the backfield should make any young quarterback’s job easier. Bortles’ would also have a little bit of a smoother transition because many of the elements of Norv Turner’s offense were a part of the UCF playbook.
But don’t expect Bortles to step in and “be the guy” right away. O’Leary said that head start would “shorten the learning curve,” but Bortles still has a ways to go as a quarterback.
“I don’t know if anyone’s NFL ready because of the speed of the game,” O’Leary said. “But I think Blake has worked extremely hard. He has all the things you’re looking for. He has vision. He can read defenses and has a good enough arm to get the ball where it needs to go.”
But in order to really be a franchise quarterback, O’Leary said “it takes time under the right tutelage.”
But that in now way means that O’Leary doesn’t believe his former quarterback can develop into a franchise passer.
“If you look at the consistency and the size and what you have to look at in that league, I think he fits the character of the ones who have been successful,” O’Leary said. “Can he be the guy? Yes, he can be the guy.”
Of course, now the question is whether the Vikings will give him the opportunity to “be the guy.” All rumblings through the media so far seem to indicate that the Vikings are leaning towards defense in the first round at pick No. 8. The team is specifically looking for a “front seven player,” according to Peter King of the MMQB, who was in Winter Park not too long ago for a story on the website.
In fact, the recent interviews the UCF staff have given could be intended to pressure the Vikings to take Bortles at No. 8. If Bortles gets past the Vikings, it’s easy to see him falling to the late first round, at least.
For what it’s worth, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News believes that Bortles is the top rated quarterback on the Vikings board, and said he sees the Vikings ending up with either Bortles, Zach Mettenberger, or Tom Savage in the draft.
In an interview on 1500 ESPN last Friday, Wolfson mentioned the possibility of the Vikings trading back to take Bortles in round one, or trading up from their second round pick if he starts to slip.
Will the Vikings actually make those words reality? We only have a few more days to wait to find out.