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Jags take QB Bortles with third pick

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected who they hope will be the quarterback of the future, Blake Bortles, with the third overall pick of Thursday’s NFL Draft.

It was thought by many that the Jags would go with Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins or Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. However, for general manager David Caldwell, Bortles was a guy they’ve had their eye on for a while.

“All the way into the season this has been a guy that we’ve known very well,” Caldwell said Thursday after making his second first-round pick as the Jaguars GM. “He’s a self-made guy, highly competitive, highly passionate about football; football is his only priority.”

Bortles said the Jaguars were one of four teams that he made pre-draft visits to and that his visit in Jacksonville went very well, giving him thought that he might land in the River City. Still, heading into Thursday, he didn’t know where he’d end up.

“I had great vibes leaving Jacksonville as I did many of the places I visited,” Bortles said. “I’m so happy it is Jacksonville. I just want to thank Mr. Khan and his family, Dave Caldwell and Coach [Gus] Bradley. I can’t wait.”

Bortles, the first quarterback selected Thursday night, played collegiately just a few hours south of Jacksonville at the University of Central Florida. The 6’5”, 232-pound quarterback was 22-5 in 27 starts for the Knights, capped off with an MVP performance (301 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 93 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown) in Central Florida’s Fiesta Bowl victory over Baylor this past January.

Bortles finished the 2013 season as the AAC Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for 3,581 yards and 25 touchdowns, numbers that according to Caldwell, made him the unanimous selection for the Jaguars amongst the team’s coaches and scouting department. Head coach Gus Bradley went so far to say that Bortles was going to be their guy, even if Houston had passed on the highly touted South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

“When our college staff got together and our coaching staff got together he was a unanimous consensus of the guy that we all wanted,” Caldwell said. “Everybody kind of came up with the same guy we wanted with the first pick and that was Blake Bortles. We feel great about it and now he’s a Jaguar.”

Bortles will be introduced to Jacksonville’s media Friday at noon at a press conference from EverBank Field.

More news and analysis on the Jaguars draft to come throughout Friday and the weekend.

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