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Draft transcripts: Caldwell, Bortles, Bradley

Posted May 8, 2014

Quotes from Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell, QB Blake Bortles and HC Gus Bradley following the pick.

JAGUARS GENERAL MANAGER DAVE CALDWELL

(Opening statement) “As you well know we selected Blake Bortles with our third pick overall and felt really good about him; strong all the way through. All the way into the season this has been a guy that we’ve known very well obviously being very close to us. Over the years I’ve seen him get better from the time he was a freshman there at Central Florida. He’s a self-made guy, highly competitive, highly passionate about football; football is his only priority. I think for us in going through the process in the fall we were very high at him throughout the college season and there’s a point in time we thought we were going to be picking one in this draft obviously when we started 0-8. We were well aware of him and a lot of other quarterbacks and then we started winning some games and didn’t know what was going to happen then. He had a really good at the Combine. I was concerned about it but when our college staff got together and our coaching staff got together he was a unanimous consensus of the guy that we all wanted. I never let my feelings known to the personnel staff, never let them known to the coaching staff. Independently the coaches, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator did it without any collaboration with the scouts, without themselves and 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.”

(Is this about sustainable winning long-term?) “Absolutely and that’s what we’ve always said. This is not a quick journey and a race to the end. This is a marathon, well hopefully not a marathon, but this is something we want to build for a long term. Johnny (Manziel) is a heck of a player but when I said that I felt like Johnny’s game wasn’t going to change a lot from year one to year two. We felt like Blake has some development from year one to year two and this first year is going to be critical for him to develop. With Johnny he is always going to be Johnny. He’s always going to be electric, he’s going to be dynamic and he’s a great player but for our system and what we want to do offensively we felt Blake was the best fit.”

(Can he develop in practice?) “Absolutely. We have a plan going forward. We talked at length with our coaching staff. Not only during the season but out of the season and how he’s going to take some extra reps after practice, extra coaching, extra seven on seven and team reps and stuff like that to really have him develop.”

(You still feel Chad Henne is your guy on opening guy and that’s the plan?) “Yep. That’s the plan that Chad is going to be the guy. We told him and we were very honest with Chad through the process. We told him there was a chance we were going to draft a quarterback. It could be with the third pick, in the first second or third. Chad knew all alon;g when we re-signed him in the offseason we were honest with him and he’s been great. I like what Chad’s been doing in this offseason stuff. He will probably give us the best chance of winning this year and Blake will be the guy of the future.”

(Aren’t things different at number three expecting him to progress and get on the field?) “No at the quarterback position. It’s such an important position in this League and you want to do it right and that’s what we’re about is doing it right. Coach Bradley always preaches let’s do it better that it’s been done before and that’s for us to make this decision work. We have to work to make it work. We just can’t throw him out there and think; we see what happens when that happens. We are going to work to make this work and I know he is going to work to make it work. The kid has an incredible work ethic and we feel really good about it.”

(On Blake’s leadership skills) “Practice, command of the team in practice, command of the field, players rally around him. You see it in the field and I think Coach Bradley told me a quote throughout this process, not relating to Blake but it kind of stuck with me, ‘when somebody shows you who they are believe them,’ and this is a guy that every place he’s had a chance to compete he has competed. At Central Florida he took them to a BCS game and won it. That’s pretty impressive for any college, SEC, ACC, but this is a guy that did it at Central Florida. And then at the Combine, when was the last time a high rated quarterback did everything at the Combine? From the three cone to the short throw to the vertical jump to the broad jump, and he threw. He just competed every phase and that’s what we’re about so his leadership skills…people are going to gravitate to him and we believe that.”

(On his mobility) “I think it’s very underrated for him and that’s what we really like about him. He has the ability to keep plays alive outside the pocket, inside the pocket, he’s got strength inside the pocket where he can deliver under pressure with people in his face but he can shake a tackle or he can run outside the pocket and do a lot of good things with his feet that a lot of people like. That’s the biggest thing for quarterbacks right now coming out at the college level. That’s why we felt good about taking Blake. We’ve done a lot of studies on next year’s quarterbacks and the quarterbacks of the future. The tougher quarterbacks that the college level is producing are the guys that run the spread offense, might not be as big or strong or pro ready but this is a guy that we can get this year and we feel like a year from now we’re going to be really happy.”

(How do you resist the urge to play him soon, and are you open to possibly doing something later in the draft to get another quarterback?) “First off, as far as the franchise now I think for us we’re all on the same page. Our owner, Shad Khan, our President Mark Lamping, myself, Gus, coaching staff, this is the plan we set in place so I think we’re very convicted to that. The coaching staff is convicted to it so that’s the plan and we believe in it. We’ve talked at length about it and it’s not something we’re just springing on our coaches now and then the Thursday before opening game I’m not going to say he’s got to play. That’s not going to happen, so that’s just something that we’re not going to do and I think it’s because we are all on the same page from ownership all the way down. As far as taking another quarterback I would not be opposed to it. I would not be opposed to it if the value is there.”

(The first time Chad Henne throws an interception they’re going to be screaming for Bortles) “The first time Blake throws an interception they will be screaming for Chad, too. That’s any quarterback anywhere. Chad’s a pro and he’s going to compete and we’re fortunate to have both of those guys. I think the other thing that drove this is 52 different starting quarterbacks last year in the NFL. Only 16 quarterbacks started all 16 games. If you look at our roster we needed some depth there. I think the majority of those were due to injuries so this is a situation where we’ve got some depth now and a guy for the future.”

(Do you think you will trade back into the first round tonight?) “If I get out of here soon enough…”

(What’s his biggest hurdle transitioning from that spread offense and how close do you think he is?) “Blake is a guy that took snaps under center too so we feel good about that. I just think Blake’s just got the finer things…really getting comfortable while taking snaps from center, they ran a lot of the same concepts at Central Florida that we ran here too. When he came in he had a pretty good grasp knowledge-wise of our offense. A lot of the terminology was the same too but his footwork and progression and the speed of the game. People don’t realize that. I think he’s going to work at it and there are no major hurdles. I don’t want to say he’s got such a high ceiling. He does but we feel he’s got a low floor too because he’s very talented right now he’s just got to work on the finer points, but we want to make sure he’s ready to roll.”

(Blake said at the Combine he needs coaching. What does that say to you guys?) “Blake was very open and honest that he knew his weaknesses and he knew what he needed to get better at. I think he’s a down to earth guy that’s a self-made guy, a blue collar guy and he just wants to be the best he can be.”

(What did coach O’Leary tell you about Blake?) “At the pro day he spoke very highly of him and he said what a lot of people have seen and felt that he just needs a little bit of time. He thought if he came back for another year he probably would have been the best quarterback in the draft next year.”

QUARTERBACK BLAKE BORTLES

(On if he had a feeling leading up to the draft that he would land with Jaguars) “I had great vibes leaving Jacksonville  as I did many of the places I visited.  I thought I had a chance but it was kind of had no clue.  I would have been surprised if I went one or went a hundred.  I’m so happy it is Jacksonville.  I just want to thank Mr. Khan and his family, Dave Caldwell and Coach Bradley.  I can’t wait.”

(On the Jaguars having a plan to develop you as a quarterback and if that was shared with you) “We talked about it.  They obviously have Chad Henne and I obviously have things I need to work on.  I’ve never looked at an NFL playbook so there’s going to be challenges that I’m going to have to overcome but I can’t wait to get there and work to be the best I can be and start competing.”

(On if he would be okay never getting off the bench as a rookie) “I would have no problem with it but I would go into practice every day and prepare every day like I’m a starter.  I think that is the kind of mindset you have to have when you are in that position, but I would have no problem doing that and taking a full year to learn and soak up as much information as I can.  If it’s reversed and you have to play right when you get there if that’s the situation then you have to be able to accept it and learn on the run and get after it.”

(On his decision to throw at the combine) “I love to compete.  I love to play football.  Any time someone is going to ask you to throw at the combine.  You get an opportunity to do that in front of every single NFL coach and GM in the country.  I don’t know what’s wrong with you if you don’t take that challenge on and go compete.”

(On if he had any conversations with Chad Henne or any other Jaguars) “I had the opportunity to meet Chad when I was there on a visit and talked with him briefly.  He’s a great guy and I can’t wait to work for him.”

(On what he thought of Gus Bradley’s power point on his visit) “It was awesome, unbelievable power point presentation and I can’t wait to see more of them.”

(On what he thinks he needs to work the most on) “I think obviously the mental aspect.  I’ve never looked at an (NFL) playbook so I have to get in there and learn everything.  I still have to work on footwork and continue to make that better and consistent and be able to throw on a platform.  That is something I look forward to continuing to work on as well as everything else.  You can always polish every aspect of your game.”

(On his expectations to start his final college season) “My expectations were just like they were every year as a team and that was to win the conference championship.   Those were our goals and expectations every year even this year being in a new conference.  I set individual goals but like Coach (George) O’Leary always talked about, those come when the team goals come. Being able to accomplish those and have the team success we did this year allowed me to accomplish some personal stuff.”

(On if he thought about the NFL draft at the start of the season) “I honestly didn’t.  I didn’t think about it until we beat Baylor and Arizona and I sat down and said, “What are we going to do.”  Throughout the whole season I was solely focused on UCF and what we wanted to do and what our goal was to accomplish.”

(On how many Jaguars game he watched the last couple of years since he’s from Orlando) “I grew up going to games.  I have probably been to five or six games in my life.  Last year I watched anytime there was a game on TV.  Obviously some days we were in getting treatment or watching film but being in Orlando the Jags are always on.  I did watch many games the last few years.”

(On when he went to Jaguars games) “I had been to five or six Jaguars games in the probably the late nineties I think.  It was when my dad would take me over there.”

(On if he remembers any of those games specifically) “No.  I remember Fred Taylor and (Mark) Brunell being there.  Those were the two guys then obviously Maurice Jones-Drew coming in.”

(On if there was any reason he stopped going to games in recent years) “Yes.  We played on Saturdays so I didn’t have a lot of free time on Sundays or Mondays.  I was kind of locked in at UCF getting ready for whatever we had to do.  For the past four years, I couldn’t really make it.”

(On what the meeting with the Jaguars at the combine was like) “I went in there and wanted to be myself and wanting to let them know and see who I was as a person.  That is all they were after.  They wanted to find out who I was, what kind of person I was.  They were just shooting questions at me.  They asked if I knew everybody in the room.  They really just wanted to see I think how I handled different things, how I handled different questions and how I was as a guy.”

(On if he thought the Jaguars might take him after the meeting) “I did.  I walked out of there and I remember calling my mom and saying, ‘Man that went really well and I really hope I get an opportunity to play in Jacksonville.  That would be awesome.’  I definitely got great vibes seeing them there.”

(On his vibes when he met with the Texans) “Same thing.  Any of the four teams I visited I felt really good that I had an opportunity to go play there and looking at it now I couldn’t be more happy with it being Jacksonville.”

JAGUARS HEAD COACH GUS BRADLEY

(Opening statement) “We’re very excited. As a coaching staff it was hard. Our coaching staff didn’t know the decision, and I think Dave did a great job, the scouting staff did a great job of trying to keep it that this was the guy we targeted. We just wanted to have every opportunity to draft him. It’s amazing just going and looking at the grades. I looked at all the scout grades, Jedd, Frank’s grades, we watched as an offense and a scouting staff and everybody had the same vision with this guy with Blake. We just think very highly of him. I know one of the things that I talked to him about was being a competitor, being a leader, being a guy that’s going to rally people, take guys in the offseason, call the wide receivers up, work them out someplace and that’s the kind of traits he has. He’s a really strong leader, really competitive, and the thing at the Combine that stood out to me is that he went there and competed when he was highly touted anyway. He did that and then the other thing was I think he was really excited to be here. He told me, ‘if this was like college and I was going through the recruiting process I would sign today.’ So he really enjoyed it here, he really liked it here, he thought everything how our vision was, how we were going to take him through this process, he felt like it was an opportunity where he could really get better. It just all fit together.”

(You had the conversation of what the vision would be in terms of his development?) “Yes. He’s competitive but I think that’s really all he is coming in here and saying, ‘I just want to get better,’ and it was talked just like how we visited with him. He said ‘I think I have a high ceiling and I want to get there as fast as I can,’ and I told him we are going to provide that environment for you to do that.”

(What was Jedd Fisch’s reaction?) “He was very excited about working with him. I think we had conversations about the direction if we take Blake, now what? We’ve got to make sure…I told our coaches to take pride in being developmental coaches. We saw it with our special teams. We saw our team develop. I want that to be what we’re all about, developmental coaches. I think it’s somewhat of a lost art. With Blake we’re going to get our opportunity. We’re going to get our opportunity to develop him and mold him the way we want. I just think Dave showed the stat about the 16 quarterbacks that played throughout the season. It’s physical and it’s tough. There’s not many quarterbacks that are 6-5 out there. It’s just with all the spread game that you’re seeing in college there’s a lot of guys 6 foot, 6-1, in that frame to get a guy that has his traits is unique.”

(How much strain can he put on a defense because of his size?) “I think it gives you flexibility. A shorter quarterback you have to design things around him. Now with his height and his ability to get out of the pocket and run, and he’s more elusive than you think. I don’t know what he ran….a 4.83 but when you saw moving the pocket and escape it was a different type than Johnny Manziel. He might take a hit, bounce off, spin but he’s such a big man. He is elusive.”

(What does he have to do to improve?) “Some of his accuracy, but I think it’s some of his foot work. I think some issues like that and his strides and things like that that we’ve kind of detailed. We said we’ve really got to target these areas with him and he understood it. I’ll give you an example; we were at the Senior Bowl with Derek Carr. He said, ‘I didn’t understand I had a weakness throwing to my left, the deep comebacks,’ and he said, ‘Frank Scelfo pointed it out, I really attacked it, worked on it and we got better that week and I carried it over all the way over all the way through the Combine and really tried to attack that area.’ And I think we are trying to strive our co aches and show them their weaknesses. They have to admit these weaknesses and let’s speed things up and give them a chance to get better. We’ve targeted things like that for Blake that we really need to see improvement.”

(Did Shad ask why not Manziel?) “No. He didn’t bring it up.”

(How difficult will it be for you to not play Blake right away?) “I just think that my number one mission right now is to provide this environment where he has a chance to improve. I think if we can and we stay strict to it he’ll get a chance to improve at a faster pace. That’s what we’re really looking for. There’s a lot of comments that it might take him a year, might take them a half of a season, might take them some time but that’s okay. We’re going to provide so it does take place in that period of time or even faster. I think we’ve got to be patient. I think I looked at a stat…Chad Henne had a good preseason his rookie year and it was like, ‘ok, now let’s start him,’ and things like that can pop into your head. I think we’ve got to be really disciplined with him and stay on course.”

(If Chad Henne stays healthy this year and has decent production do you envision that as a scenario where you can wait until the second year before you stick Bortles in there?) “We never talk about if we have this many wins now let’s do this. Right now we feel good about the direction Chad is going and I’ve talked to him about being more of a leader, being more assertive, doing more things in the offseason, have more command of the offense and those things we’re seeing on the field. I told him he’s going into his seventh year and I said it’s a good time in your career right now, you’ve gone through some tough times, some good times you can and put all those experiences together and really take off this year. The team is excited about him and I know our offensive staff has seen marked improvement with him.”

(The success of the quarterback is the success of the head coach. Is there fear given that position that your future with the Jaguars is based on Blake’s future?) “I don’t think that way. I think when Shad hired me it was, I have a commitment to the organization to do what I think is best for the organization. That’s what I told Dave. Let’s stay true to that and not let it be about me or you. That’s the commitment we gave to Shad and to this organization and the franchise to do what we think is best for the franchise and not get caught up into that. I just don’t want to go there. It might take a year and he might have to play a year for that but that’s okay. We think that’s what’s best for the organization and let’s go for it.”

(Were you tempted at all with Mack or going defensively?) “Yeah, I will say that he was always up there. I think we prepared for there was more heat coming around Blake at the end where Houston was talking about trading or somehow getting in the mix. We had our second options and there’s some talented players in the top ten, very talented players. Receiver is an area that we looked at, and there’s some talented receivers that came out. But as far as the franchise everybody agreed on this guy from the scouts to the coaches it was just very difficult to bypass that.”

(What was he like in the meeting room?) “He was just a real person. It wasn’t any act, he just came across and said I know I have some areas I need to work on but I am excited about this next opportunity and I just want to get this over with so I can get back to competing. He said that’s why he competed in the Combine because he can’t go very long without competing in an event like that. I think he’s excited about being here with comments like I shared with you earlier. I know just talking with Chad about some of the quarterbacks that were out there he said Blake seems like the guy that’s the type of quarterback that would fit our style. Without me saying anything I think he could pick up on it.”

(If Clowney was available at number three?) “We had that conversation so the gnashing of teeth took place about two weeks ago when that scenario was brought up. After we talked it about it it was really clear to me. I think it was hard because then it would fall into that having a defensive coach and maybe this is what’s best for the organization (laughing). He’s very talented. I think it’s not like Dave has a history, it’s been one year but I will say I think Blake is really clean. He’s a football player, limited distractions in his life, the guy is ultra-competitive, wants to be really good and it feels really good and he’s very talented.”

(He has a very similar profile as Joeckel?) “Yeah. Very similar.”

(On picking Bortles over Clowney?) “I don’t know. I can’t say that. Dave would have to answer that, I just know with all the scenarios….If Clowney would have fell we would have still made this pick.”

(On addressing pass rush players in free agency. How much easier was it to make this pick?) “I think it gave us the flexibility to do that and I think when you look at guys on the board as far as talent and guys that come right in and have an impact. Obviously some receivers, Clowney, Mack, those guys have a chance to come in and play right away where Bortles we said we’re going to let him develop through the year. As far as guys that are ready to play Bortles wasn’t that guy compared to those other guys. Because we have Clemmons, because we have Red Bryant and Babin and Branch, all those guys, it gave us the flexibility to go in this direction.”

(On 10 picks remaining) “Yeah as a whole staff we talked about that. Not only in the second and third round but those fourth and fifth rounds we really have to do a nice job in those rounds to get strong competitive guys.”

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