INDIANAPOLIS — Former University of Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles said he was encouraged by his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine during the weekend.
The lone quarterback among the "Big Three" to throw during quarterback drills on Sunday, Bortles told the Orlando Sentinel he felt his performance validated the decision to compete in the pressure-packed workout in front of NFL executives at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"On the field, I thought I did really good," Bortles said. "They were all personal bests, I ran an OK 40(-yard dash), I'm not that good at 40s, but everything else was a personal best as far as shuttle and the jumps. And the throwing felt good. I thought it paid off to make the decision to throw."
Former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel opted to wait to throw at their respective pro days.
Bortles had a solid showing during the passing drills. Despite having no opportunity to develop timing with the receivers at the combine, Bortles was accurate throughout the session, including on intermediate and deep routes. He closed the workout with three strong throws on post-corner routes, and earlier had impressed with accurate, strong passes on out patterns.
Bortles said he went into the throwing drills with a goal to complete every pass, and while he did not hit that mark, the Oviedo native was happy with the showing.
"For the most part, it went well and I put the ball where I wanted to," Bortles said. "... Everything so far has been positive feedback and that it was a good decision to throw and I helped myself."
Bortles met with nearly every team during the course of the weekend and had formal interviews with eight franchises: the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings.
Houston, St. Louis and Jacksonville hold the first three picks in the draft.
The former Knights passer said he tried to give teams an impression of who he was as a person, as well as his goals as a player. Bortles said the sessions covered ground from his start playing football and his family background before moving into football-related areas.
"I did everything I could to just stick out in their head, so they know this is who I am, these are my goals, this is what I want to try to do," Bortles said. "That I'm going to do everything I can to help an organization in becoming successful."
Bortles will return to Orlando in mid-March to prepare for UCF's pro day on March 19. During pro day, representatives from all NFL teams are invited to observe area athletes on a college campus. With Bortles working out, UCF's pro day is sure to attract a slew of NFL general managers and head coaches.
He plans to stay in the Orlando area for private workouts after UCF's pro day leading up to the NFL Draft in May.
Bortles has the option of being tested again during UCF's pro day in every area evaluated during the combine. Most athletes aim to improve their results but are wary of turning in worse numbers if they did especially well during initial testing.
He said he does not have a script yet for the pro day workout, but he is in the process of setting up a plan.
For the 6-foot-5, 232-pound quarterback, the combine was a whirlwind. Bortles has rarely had to deal with a major media presence, and he said it was a thrill to meet with so many NFL executives and coaches.
"Just a little taste of (being an NFL quarterback)," Bortles said. "Being able to meet with these coaches and GMs and talk football, talk life, talk about things that go on in the NFL. I think you don't know what it's like until you're there and you're a part of it, but that's what I'm looking forward to."